Senators ask Biden to restore the integrity of the RFS

By Erin Voegele | January 12, 2021

A group of six democratic senators sent a letter President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 11 urging his administration to support U.S. farmers and the biofuels industry by restoring the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The letter, signed by Sens. Tammy Duckworth. D-Ill.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., requests that Biden take bold action in support U.S. farmers and rural communities while acting to combat climate change.

“The outgoing administration undermined the [RFS], which was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, diversify our fuels, strengthen our national security and drive economic opportunity in America’s heartland,” they wrote. “It is critical that the integrity of this policy be restored and that biofuels be part of your efforts to combat climate change and reduction greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s largest emitting sector.”

In order to achieve those goals, the senators urge the Biden administration to swiftly take four steps. First, the senators ask Biden to direct the U.S. EPA to adopt the Tenth Circuit Court decision on small refinery exemptions (SREs) nationwide and swiftly reject any pending and future SRE petitions that do not meet the standards set forth by the court. Second, they ask him to swiftly publish the 2021 renewable volume obligations (RVOs). Third, the senators urge Biden to approve pending pathway applications for corn kernel fiber ethanol and update the EPA’s biofuels emissions modeling. Fourth, when reaffirming U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, the senators ask Biden to include biofuels.

“We strongly support your administration’s goal of addressing the climate crisis and supporting our nation’s farmers,” the senators wrote. “Ending the policy abuses that were prevalent during the outgoing administration early on in your term will help to renew commitments to rural communities and drive economic resiliency in the heartland. In addition to the policy recommendations above, we urge your administration to begin consideration of the RFS “set” for RVO volumes for 2023 and beyond, guided by the important role that biofuels must play in meaningful and rapid climate action.”

The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol have spoken out in support of the letter.

“We thank these six Senators for strongly supporting the RFS. These lawmakers understand that when the RFS is properly implemented and enforced, it is an incredibly powerful tool for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “They also recognize that the outgoing Trump administration continues to pose a threat to the integrity of the RFS, and we stand with them to defend the program from midnight-hour manipulation.”

Cooper also noted, “RFA looks forward to working with President-elect Biden and EPA Administrator-designee Michael Regan to ensure the RFS is implemented in a way that fully embraces the program’s potential to drive decarbonization, and we agree with Mr. Biden that renewable fuels play a ‘critical role…in our fight against climate change.’”

“As we begin the new year and new Congress, we are grateful for Sens. Duckworth, Klobuchar, Stabenow, Smith, Baldwin, and Durbin’s urgency on behalf of the biofuels industry to raise these top priorities to the incoming Biden Administration,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “From swiftly publishing RVOs to rejecting SREs, this letter outlines the actions the Biden Administration needs to take to fulfill its campaign promises to rural America and make quick progress on their environmental and energy goals.”

“ACE appreciates the Senators underscoring biofuels be part of the Biden administration’s efforts to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “Three of the four steps outlined in the letter they sent that the incoming administration can immediately take are associated with restoring the integrity of the RFS. Today, ACE also took a step to ensure the Biden administration doesn’t have more work to do in regards to this policy by writing the EPA Inspector General to seek assurances that EPA Administrator Wheeler is complying with the law on any final RFS waiver decisions on his way out the door to the private sector.”

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