On the day the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) celebrated its 11th anniversary – August 8, 2005 – California Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) along with five of his California colleagues, submitted a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the agency to fulfill Congress’ intent when it passed the energy policy. Each year, the amount of renewable fuels blended into the country’s fuel supply is to increase. However, the EPA has not set volumes that meet statuary requirements even though the biofuel industry can meet, and in some cases exceed, demand.
“The RFS was created to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and provide U.S. consumers with access to cleaner transportation fuels. Despite the recent increase in domestic oil production, the U.S. economy remains heavily dependent on foreign oil and at the mercy of international market prices,” the lawmakers wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Billions of dollars in private investment have made America a leader in homegrown, clean biofuels. California alone is home to dozens of companies working on approaches from algae and biodiesel-based products to municipal solid waste, supporting nearly 60,000 jobs. However, EPA’s proposed rule for 2017 falls short of total renewable fuel volumes set in the law by Congress.
“Under this methodology, which Congress previously rejected, EPA allows the oil industry to avoid its statutory blending obligation by claiming there is inadequate infrastructure to bring more biofuels to consumers,” the lawmakers wrote. “Yet due to the fact that the oil industry controls the fuel distribution infrastructure, the EPA is essentially allowing the oil industry to cap the RFS and limit future growth in the biofuels sector.”
Increased fuel demand and greater availability of higher ethanol blends is more than enough justification for the EPA to increase volumes for 2017 and get the RFS back on track, they concluded.
“California and the nation have made great strides in protecting the environment, improving air quality, meeting fuel demand and creating jobs through use of biofuels under renewable fuel standards,” Swalwell said. “The EPA must follow Congress’ intent and keep up the pressure on the oil industry to provide the infrastructure needed to deliver these cleaner fuels.”
Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO, made the following statement following the submission of the letter, “The letter explicitly urges EPA to put the RFS program back on track by finalizing blending targets that are in line with Congress’ original intent. The RFS program has been a resounding success. EPA’s methodology, as it currently stands will let the obligated parties off the hook, decreasing the commercial availability of higher blends, such as E15. By returning to the statutory levels, the administration would will send a signal to the renewable fuels industry that they are committed to achieving the goals of carbon reduction, a free and fair fuel marketplace where consumers have a choice, and reaffirm their commitment to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.” Click here to read Skor’s full letter.