Senators urge Pruitt to issue strong 2018 RFS RVOs

By Erin Voegele | October 05, 2017

On Oct. 5, a bipartisan group of 38 senators led by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, asking him to ensure the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard blending requirements promote growth in the U.S. biofuels sector and the U.S. economy.  

The letter stresses that when congress adopted the RFS in 2005, its goal was to drive innovation and investments that would bring biofuels to American consumers. “The biofuel industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the country, reduces the environmental impact of our transportation and energy sectors, and cuts our reliance on foreign oil,” said the senators in the letter. “The stability of our policy has led to billions of dollars of investment in the biofuel sector. America’s production capacity has expanded more than threefold since 2005 with fuels such as biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, recycled-waste, algal, and other advanced biofuels.”

“We need to build on this progress,” the senators continued.

The senators argue the proposed renewable volume requirements (RVOs) for 2018 represent a step back when it comes to advanced biofuels, and would result in less renewable fuels being blended than in 2017. “The rule unjustifiably flatlines biomass-based diesel, reduces advanced biofuels, and reduces the cellulosic biofuel blending target by about 25 percent,” said the senators. “The agency arrives at these lower targets by utilizing a new methodology more reliant on historical data than projected volumes. The RFS must by law be administered in a forward-looking manner. The final rule should address these shortfalls.”

The letter also addresses the notice of data availability (NODA) published by the EPA on Sept. 26 that aims to lower the blending targets by the number of gallons of biofuels imported, but still permits those imported gallons to generate compliance credits. In addition, the letter also criticizes reports that the EPA is considering allowing exported gallons of biofuel to generate compliance credits. “Taken together, these actions would reduce renewable fuel blending in the U.S. and create uncertainty for producers,” the senators said.

“If done right, this rule is an opportunity to continue our nation’s path to be not only the world leader in first generation ethanol production, but also in cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuel production by spurring investment and manufacturing here in the United States rather than overseas,” the senators continued. “We urge you to continue to implement the RFS as intended by Congress and release a strong final rule that would give consumers more choices at the pump, strengthen our economy and make our country more secure.”

In addition to Klobuchar and Grassley, the letter is signed by Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Heidi Heitkamp, D.-N.D.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Margaret Hassan, D, N.H.; Jeanne Shaheen, D.- N.H.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Jeffrey Merkley, D-Ore.; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Edward Markey, D-Mass.; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.