Letter calls for revision of EPA's 2014 RFS proposal

By Erin Voegele | January 20, 2014

A bipartisan group of 30 members of Congress recently sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, expressing concern over the EPA’s proposed 2014 volume requirements under the renewable fuels standard (RFS).

“By reducing the amount of renewable fuel blended into gasoline lower than in 2013, this rule could hurt rural economies, jeopardize American jobs, raise prices at the pump and deter investment in biofuels and biofuel infrastructure,” they wrote. “We are further concerned that the rationale used by the EPA is inconsistent with the current statute and could jeopardize the future of the renewable fuel industry.”

Within the letter, the representatives stress that U.S. dependence on imported petroleum products declined from 60 percent in 2005 to 41 percent in 2012, due in part to increased use of ethanol and other biofuels.

“Reducing our dependence on foreign oil is in the best interest of our country’s national security. Additionally, the RFS supports almost 400,000 American jobs and has helped encourage billions of dollars of investment in research and development in biofuel-related technologies,” wrote the representatives.

The letter also states that the reduced 2014 RFS requirement could destabilize the renewable fuel industry and send the wrong message to investors, risking jobs and threating the development of advanced and cellulosic biofuels. In addition, the letter points out that the proposed reduction coincides with one of the biggest corn harvests on record. “Instead of using a higher volume of available corn for ethanol blending, gasoline would need to be refined from more foreign oil, which could drive up gas prices for all consumers,” the members of Congress said in the letter.

Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Kristi Noem, R-S.D., led group of lawmakers that issued the letter. On Jan. 15 Bustos also spoke out on the U.S. House of Representatives floor against the EPA proposal.

“Lowering the amount of biofuels simply defies common sense. This isn’t just a proposal that will hurt Illinois rural farmers, or communities in the rural areas, but the economy at large…It also builds a brick wall in the middle of our nation’s path toward energy independence. It threatens to drive up prices at the gasoline pump and it risks jobs in an industry that really offers real promise. The administration’s proposal doesn’t even maintain the status quo. It moves us backward, and I see that as unacceptable. I’m proud to lead a bipartisan effort with Congresswoman Kristi Noem in urging the EPA to revise its proposal, because if energy independence is a national priority, then so too should be biofuels,” said Bustos during her one-minute speech on the House floor.

House Agricultural Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., was among the 30 representatives that signed the letter. He also recently announced that he hosted a meeting with members of Congress and McCarthy. During the meeting, the representatives expressed their disappointment in the EPA’s 2014 RFS proposals.

“I appreciate Administrator McCarthy’s willingness to meet with us and hope the Agency’s final rule will take the concerns of our constituents into account. The rural economy has been one of the few bright spots in recent years, due in large part to the RFS. Reducing the RFS would not only have a negative impact on jobs and the rural economy, it would also halt advances in the next generation of renewable fuels. I will continue to press the importance of a strong RFS as EPA moves ahead with the rulemaking process,” Peterson said.

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from Bustos’ website.