Letter urges EPA to process pending RFS fuel pathway applications

By Erin Voegele | June 11, 2019

A bipartisan group of 21 members of Congress, led by Reps. John Shimkus, R-Ill., and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler June 4 urging the agency to take action on pending Renewable Fuel Standard fuel pathways.

According to the representatives, “delays in reviewing new RFS pathway petitions have inhibited the growth and development of the next generation of innovative transportation fuels.”

“These delays are not limited to one type of fuel,” they wrote, noting that the EPA’s website currently lists nearly two dozen pending petitions for renewable fuel pathways. This includes pathways for liquid fuels as well as renewable electricity. “It’s time for reviews of these innovative new fuels to be completed in order to allow approved pathways the market access that Congress intended them to have,” the representatives wrote.

“Our constituents include biomass, biogas and waste-to-energy electricity producers together with local governments and the thousands of workers involved in these industries throughout the entire supply chain,” they continued. “The renewable fuel production facilities they supply and operate are linchpins of local economies, creating value out of materials that would otherwise be discarded or sold below their full market value.”

The letter stresses that farmers, truckers, local governments, landowners, loggers and forest owners rely on these facilities as part of their supply chains, revenue streams or municipal infrastructure. “They provide a valuable service to our states and communities, yet many are experiencing challenging economics due to unnecessary barriers to market access and federal incentive programs that have too narrowly focused on other technologies,” the representatives wrote.

“We urge EPA to expeditiously review and approve worthy pending applications to produce RFS-qualified renewable fuels, permitting them to proceed to market,” they continued.

The RFS Power Coalition has spoken out in support of the letter.

“We are extremely grateful to the 21 signers of this letter to the EPA articulating the EPA’s violation of implementing Congress’ intentions by not including electricity in the RFS,” said Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of Biomass Power Association, one of three founding organizations of the RFS Power Coalition. “As of today, it’s been 11 years and 174 days since Congress passed RFS2, which included electricity. As the letter points out, the EPA’s refusal to process electricity applications has an impact far beyond our individual power producers; entire supply chains including farms, forests, loggers and local governments are suffering due to the EPA’s failure to act.”

“We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all 21 signers of this letter, who represent farmers, foresters, local governments and other stakeholders in the creation of electricity from biogas, biomass and other qualifying forms of renewable energy,” said Patrick Serfass, executive director of American Biogas Council. “We hope this is the wakeup call that EPA needs to include electricity in the RFS, ideally in advance of its release of the 2020 Renewable Volume Obligation.”

In addition to Shimkus and Pingree, the letter was signed by Reps. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz.; John Garamendi, D-Calif.; Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.; Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Doug LaMalfa, F-Calif.; Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.; Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.; Chris Pappas, D-N.H.; Paul Cook, R-Calif., Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; Devin Nunes, R-Calif.; Angie Craig, D-Minn.; John Moolenaar, R-Mich.; Donald Payne Jr., D-N.J.; Pete Stauber, R-Minn.; Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H.; Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa.; Jim Costa, D-Calif.; and Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich.

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the RFS Power Coalition website