Peterson Leads Bipartisan Letter in Support of Strong Final RFS Rule

Oct 21, 2015 Issues: Energy

WASHINGTON – Congressman Collin C. Peterson today announced 17 bipartisan members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy in opposition to the agency’s proposed Renewable Volume Obligation numbers for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“The RFS is a crucial part of our domestic production of renewable fuels which works to boost our agricultural economies here at home and cut our nation’s dependence on foreign oil,” Peterson said. “I am disappointed in the cuts the EPA proposed for the RFS this spring and I hope the agency recognizes the disastrous effects this could have on rural America.”

The letter asks the EPA to follow Congressional intent of the RFS law and avoid triggering a provision which allows the agency to reset volumes that are lagging behind due to EPA’s continued delay of RFS implementation.

Full text of the letter is below:

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

As members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, we write to express our concern regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule on renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2014 and subsequent years under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  We urge you to make significant changes to this proposed rule, use criteria found in statute for determining domestic biofuel volumes, and follow Congressional intent when it passed the RFS.

The RFS is a key piece of our nation’s energy policy and it is working.  The RFS has driven billions of dollars of investment in the biofuel sector in the United States and has created and supported hundreds-of-thousands of U.S. jobs, while also enhancing our nation’s energy security and delivering reliable renewable energy to market. Setting aggressive biofuel volume requirements is essential to continuing growth in our homegrown energy sector.

Unfortunately, the EPA’s proposed rule is inconsistent with the intent of the law. The proposed rule adopts a zero-growth approach and proposes limiting the annual blending targets based on available infrastructure—a criteria that is not included in the EPA’s clearly defined statutory waiver authority and was expressly rejected by Congress during the conference committee of the 2005 Energy Act (P.L. 109-58).

We are also concerned that the EPA’s continued delay and misinterpretation of the RFS could provide yet another avenue to shortchange the future of the biofuel industry. The RFS includes a “reset” provision that takes effect after 2016 if the EPA has reduced any of the mandated amounts by at least 20% for two consecutive years or by at least 50% for a single year. Should the EPA undermine the biofuel industry with insufficient volume requirements in the final rule, and use those very targets as the justification for a reset, it would add insult to injury for an industry already hamstrung by uncertainty. Instead we urge the EPA to set forth a strong methodology that reflects the original Congressional intent and is consistent with the long-term energy production goals of the RFS. Certainty in the biofuel market will unfreeze capital investments that have been waiting on the sidelines for far too long. 

The decisions your agency makes in the coming weeks and months about the volumes for 2014, 2015, and 2016, as well as a decision on the biomass-diesel volume for 2017, will set the trajectory for the biofuel industry for decades to come. We again urge you to make significant changes to the final rule and follow clear Congressional intent in existing statute.

Sincerely,

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