Federal lawmakers urge EPA to uphold the RFS | Biomassmagazine.com – Biomass Magazine


A group of 15 democratic lawmakers on June 16 sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese expressing concern that the Biden administration is considering several options to exempt oil refineries from their Renewable Fuel Standard blending obligations.

“We support your efforts to address climate change, but we are concerned that rolling back the RFS obligation for refiners directly contradicts this work,” the lawmakers wrote. “Following through on the actions reportedly under discussion would directly undermine your commitment to address climate change and restore integrity to the RFS and we urge you to reject them.”

“The proposals identified in media reports as options under consideration by the [EPA] have one thing in common: they all unjustifiably waive Clean Air Act compliance requirements for a small group of refiners that the EPA has repeatedly determined are not negatively impacted by the RFS,” they wrote in the letter. “If adopted, greenhouse gas emissions will increase, our reliance on oil will increase, consumers will pay more at the pump, and the U.S. economy will be harmed.

Rather than exempting refineries from RFS blending obligations, the lawmakers urge the EPA to provide certainty and stability in the renewable fuels marketplace by swiftly issuing proposed RFS blending requirements for 2021 and 2022 and responding to a court remand that requires the agency to reinstate 500 million gallons of blending obligations inappropriately waived for compliance year 2016.

“As your Administration continues to push for meaningful and rapid climate action, biofuels can and should play an important role in decarbonizing vehicle emissions,” the lawmakers wrote. “Recent studies demonstrate that using ethanol in place of gasoline reduces greenhouse gas emissions by almost half while biodiesel cuts greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 74 percent. Exempting refiners of their obligations to blend biofuel would mean increased reliance on oil and more carbon emissions – a result this country cannot afford if we are to meet our new commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions by 50 – 52 percent by 2030.

“We urge you to reject any actions under discussion to exempt oil refiners of their obligations under the RFS and uphold your commitment to combatting climate change and supporting our nation’s farmers,” the continued.

Growth Energy issued a statement in support of the letter. “The reported handouts to oil companies looking to avoid their biofuel blending obligations would be a complete reversal of the Biden Administration’s repeated and unequivocal promises to support clean energy jobs and uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Giving in to oil refiners’ repeated claims of economic strain would also backtrack our nation’s progress of moving toward a cleaner energy transportation future through higher biofuel blends. 

“This bicameral letter from Democratic members who represent a wide constituency, reflects broad national support of cleaner fuel choices,” Skor continued. “We thank the 16 Members of the House and Senate for backing our industry and will continue pushing for Administrator Regan and Director Deese to stand with clean, homegrown biofuels.”

 The Renewable Fuels Association also thanked the lawmakers for urging the Biden administration to uphold the RFS. “We’re grateful to these congressional champions for standing up for our nation’s producers of low-carbon ethanol and other renewable fuels,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “The Biden administration has repeatedly committed itself to moving forward in a transparent way on fuel policy, and likewise has repeatedly stated its desire to move away from the prior administration’s decisions that ultimately favored Big Oil and undermined the RFS. As these lawmakers appropriately point out, biofuels are an important part of decarbonizing vehicle emissions and the transportation sector. It seems unfathomable that the Biden Administration would exempt refiners from using more renewable biofuels and move us away from that important goal.”

The letter is signed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; along with Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; Cindy Axne, D-Iowa; Angie Craig, D-Minn.; Mark Pocan, D-Wisc.; Ron Kind, D-Wisc.; David Scott, D-Ga.; Lauren Underwood, D-Ill.; and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.  

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

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