Senators ask to meet with White House on biofuels

By Erin Voegele | October 26, 2021

A group of nine senators on Oct. 26 sent a letter to the White House reiterating a request to meet with President Biden and members of his cabinet to discuss the opportunity biofuels can contribute to his administration’s energy, environmental and transportation agenda.

“As rising energy prices stoke consumer fears of more resolute, long-term inflation, our request takes on new urgency,” the senators wrote.

The letter stresses that access to affordable and reliable sources of energy requires an all-of-the above energy strategy that equally leverages responsible resource development and innovation. “American biofuels represent both, and as we outlined in our previous letter, they hold the proven ability to provide consumers broad choices for cleaner and more affordable energy,” the senators wrote. “These contributions would expand with timely action by your administration.”

The senators note that they have seen reports that the administration is meeting with the oil and gas industry to address mounting energy concerns. While the letter does not discourage the expansion of domestic oil and gas extraction, the senators do “caution against attacks that misconstrue the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as the source of America’s rising energy prices or seek to exploit global influences to undermine the American biofuels industry.”

The senators stress that higher blends of biofuels, like E15, provide consumers with lower-cost, greener options at the fuel pump. “Additionally, higher blends of ethanol will expand consumer choice and lessen the volume of conventional fuel needed for each vehicle, easing the ongoing supply constraint while also generating more— and thus reduce the price of—RINs, the RFS compliance credits,” the wrote.

The senators are urging Biden to set robust RFS blending obligations and not undercut those blend obligations with small refinery exemptions (SREs). The letter outlines several policy suggestions, including the use of updated GREET modeling to score transportation fuels and approving long-stalled RFS fuel registrations, including those for corn fiber ethanol. The senators also ask Biden to feature biofuels as part of the administration’s international outreach on energy, environment and trade, including at the upcoming COP26 in Scotland.

“Mr. President, biofuels are a readily available energy solution that deserve full consideration— not only for helping to stem the recent increase in fuel prices, which has subsequently accelerated inflation—but to serve as a foundational source of transportation emission reductions as part of your energy and environmental agenda,” the senators wrote. “We call on your administration to utilize the full capacity of American agriculture to deliver on both fronts, and we reiterate our request to discuss these matters with you in greater detail.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol has released a statement applauding the letter. “ACE thanks biofuel Senate champions today for renewing their request to meet with President Biden and discuss the tremendous opportunity that biofuels like ethanol present to contribute to the Administration’s energy, environmental and transportation agenda,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will be more attainable if we start making progress right now with low carbon ethanol, and we join these Senators in calling on the President to give biofuels his full consideration.”

The letter is signed by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; M. Michael Rounds, R-S.D.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; and Roger Marshal, R-Kan.

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from Thune’s website