The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) remains under fire regarding its proposed rule for the 2017 renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This week, 17 members of the House Biofuels Caucus sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, urging the agency to complete its 2017 RFS “in a manner consistent with the Congressional intent to aggressively expand the production of renewable fuels.” Last month, 39 Senators also sent a letter to McCarthy calling for her to increase biofuel use back to statuary levels.
The 2017 proposal calls on refiners to blend 14.8 billion gallons of conventional biofuels in 2017, slightly below the 15-billion-gallon level envisioned by Congress when it expanded the RFS in 2007.
“We thank the lawmakers for their leadership to ensure EPA finalizes a strong RFS that gets the program back on track,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “As the House members wrote, ‘a final rule that falls short of the conventional biofuel cap will do nothing to assuage critics of the program, while missing an opportunity to refocus on addressing the pressing issues needed to fully realize the potential renewable fuels can make for our economy and energy security.’ We couldn’t agree more.”
Dinneen continued, “As we outlined in comments to EPA this week on its proposed 2017 RFS rule, there’s no justification for lowering the conventional biofuel target. Record levels of E10 consumption, broader availability of E15 and E85, more than 2 billion surplus renewable identification numbers and other factors make the statutory requirement readily achievable in 2017. It’s time EPA follows the statutory requirement and increase the conventional biofuel target to 15 billion gallons.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor also thanked the House members for their support of ethanol. “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 successfully grown the biofuels industry in the United States, and finalizing blending targets that satisfy the original statutory requirements will keep that progress intact.”
She continued, “We commend these members of Congress for supporting progress in the biofuels industry, and protecting America’s security and economy through the RFS. The EPA must return stability to this policy to ensure that we do not turn back the clock on the strides we have made. The RFS improves our environment by reducing harmful emissions and displacing toxic chemicals found in gasoline, creates American jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and gives American consumers a choice of a higher performing, less expensive fuel.“
She concluded by noting that the RFS is the country’s most successful energy policy and the biofuels industry is an American success story. “We thank this bipartisan group of representatives for their commitment to fostering growth in the American biofuels industry, and stand with them in support.”