U.S. lawmakers seek ‘well-rounded biofuels policies’

Source: By Emily Flitter, Reuters • Posted: Friday, November 3, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan group in the U.S. House of Representatives has called on the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize “the significant pitfalls and costs” of renewable fuel standards in its future rulemaking and enact “well-rounded” biofuel policies.

“We look forward to working with you to put forth well-rounded biofuels policies that reflect market realities and benefit American families and businesses,” the 64 lawmakers wrote to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Wednesday in a letter Reuters reviewed on Thursday.

An EPA spokesman said in an email that the agency would respond to the group “through the proper channels.”

Wednesday’s letter, whose list of signatories was led by Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte and Vermont Democrat Peter Welch, said the standard had not accomplished any goals it was purportedly designed to meet, like protecting the environment and revitalizing rural America.

“By diverting more than 35 percent of the annual corn harvest to fuel additive, the RFS has raised the cost of livestock production, increased food price volatility and insecurity, decreased fuel efficiency, damaged small-engine equipment, hurt the environment and chipped away at household budgets,” the letter said.

Earlier this year, the EPA proposed reexamining several aspects of the standard for renewable fuels, including whether refiners should be responsible for blending them and whether ethanol exports could be included in a marketplace for renewable fuel credits.

But the agency announced on Oct. 19 that it would abandon those efforts after protests from Midwestern lawmakers.

“President Trump pledged to support biofuels during his campaign,” said Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa in a statement emailed to Reuters on Thursday. “A strong RFS is consistent with that pledge, and President Trump should be applauded for keeping his word to the country.”

Renewable Fuels Association spokeswoman Rachel Gantz said Goodlatte was “spreading the same lies” about the standard.

“The RFS is helping bring about consumer choice by breaking Big Oil’s monopoly at the pump,” she said.

Reporting by Emily Flitter; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Franklin Paul and Lisa Von Ahn