Biofuel infrastructure, GHG modeling bills introduced in House

By Erin Voegele | March 03, 2021

Co-chairs of the House Biofuels Caucus on March 3 introduced two pieces of legislation that aim to expand access to higher biofuel blends and fully recognize the environmental benefits of renewable fuels.

Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., introduced the Adopt GREET Act, a bill that aims to require the U.S. EPA to update is greenhouse gas (GHG) modeling to more accurately reflect the environmental benefits of agriculture and biofuels. The agency would also be required to update its modeling every five years or report to Congress to affirm its modeling is current or otherwise explain why no updates were made. Johnson introduced the bill with fellow Biofuels Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Mark Pocan, D-Wisc.; Adrian Smith, R-Neb.; and Angie Craig, D-Minn.

Reps. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and Davis led the introduction of the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act, which would authorize $500 million over five years for infrastructure grants for fuel retailers. It would also direct the U.S. EPA to finalize a proposed rule to repeal E15 labeling requirements and allow certain types of existing underground storage tanks to store higher blends of ethanol.  

Companion legislation for both bills were recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. The Adopt GREEN Act was introduced last month in the Senate by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Sens. Klobuchar and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, also introduced the Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act in the Senate in February.

The American Coalition for Ethanol has spoken out in support of the Adopt GREET Act. “Recent studies prove there is no silver bullet solution to decarbonize transportation fuels,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “Therefore, a portfolio of low carbon fuel strategies, including increasing the use of ethanol, will be required. We appreciate Rep. Johnson and the Biofuels Caucus co-chairs for introducing this legislation in the House that would help lay the groundwork by requiring EPA to apply the latest GREET model to more accurately account for corn ethanol’s carbon intensity when establishing regulations which could impact ethanol use in the future.

“The U.S. Department of Energy GREET model, which is widely-recognized as the gold standard tool for determining the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of transportation fuels, indicates that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gases by 50 percent compared to gasoline,” Jennings continued. “Unfortunately, EPA has disregarded this latest lifecycle science and continues to cling to a flawed and outdated model which shows corn ethanol is only 20 percent cleaner than gasoline.

“ACE board member Ron Alverson has worked with scientists in the Argonne National Lab to pursue improvements to the GREET model over the years, including updates to land use change assumptions and accounting for soil carbon sequestration and nitrogen fertilizer management,” he added. “A 2018 white paper authored by Alverson was instrumental in shaping a recent report by Harvard and Tufts validating ethanol’s carbon intensity is 50 percent less than gasoline. Now there’s bipartisan, bicameral support for the adoption of the best available science, and ACE will continue to champion for its implementation to help steer policy decisions made at the state and federal levels.”

Jennings also issued a statement in support of the infrastructure bill. “We thank Representatives Axne, Davis, and the Co-Chairs of the House Biofuels Caucus for this demonstration of bipartisan leadership, which is necessary to ensure biofuels play a leading role in helping the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury,” he said. “While electric vehicles (EVs) continue to dominate the headlines, experts conclude EVs alone will fail to reach President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions in the U.S. by 2050, and that increased use of biofuels will be required to help address the emissions gap. A recent study by Harvard validates what ACE has been saying for years; today’s corn ethanol is nearly 50 percent cleaner than gasoline. This vital legislation with both bicameral and bipartisan backing would ensure infrastructure parity for biofuels and EVs and help ethanol continue to be part of the solution to climate change.”

Growth Energy is also welcoming introduction of both bills. “Both the Adopt GREET Act and the Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act encourage nationwide use of biofuels like ethanol and promote their proven environmental benefits as Congress and the Administration find ways to immediately decarbonize the transportation sector,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The bicameral and bipartisan support of each bill underscores the shared sentiment that biofuels’ role in reducing carbon emissions remains critical to some of today’s climate change challenges.”