House bill bans Russian oil, increases access to US biofuels

By Erin Voegele | March 21, 2022

Reps. Angie Craig, D-Minn.; Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa; Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; and Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, on March 21 introduced the Home Front Energy Independence Act, a bill that aims to expand access to biofuels and ban Russian oil. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate on March 9.

The Home Front Energy Independence Act combines elements of several previous bills aimed at supporting and incentivizing the use of biofuel, including the Biofuel Infrastructure and Agricultural Product Market Expansion Act of 2021the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Actthe Low Carbon Biofuel Credit Act, and the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2021.

Specifically, the legislation makes E15 available year-round, establishes an E15 tax credit, extends the existing tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel, directs the U.S. EPA to finalize its E15 labeling rule, and provides for biofuel infrastructure and compatibility with retailers. It would also put into law full restrictions on U.S. purchases of Russian oil until the president determines Russia recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The Renewable Fuels Association is calling the bill a “smart solution” for lowering fuel costs. “The fastest way to put a lid on record-high gas prices is to empower greater use of low-cost renewable fuels, and that’s exactly what this bill would do,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “This commonsense legislation would bring immediate economic relief to American families who are experiencing unprecedented pain at the pump, while simultaneously reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and tailpipe pollutants linked to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses. Not only would the bill eliminate dependence on Russian oil imports, but it would also ensure that those imports are replaced by more affordable renewable fuels produced right here in America’s heartland. We applaud Reps. Craig, Feenstra, Bustos, and Hinson for offering this smart solution.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol is thanking House members for introducing the bill. “The only hurdles standing between saving consumers considerable money at the pump and replacing foreign oil with homegrown E15 are political or artificial in nature, and the Biden administration and Congress have the ability to help us overcome those hurdles,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “We’re appreciative the White House acknowledged that lifting the summertime restriction on the sale of E15 is within the ‘menu of options’ the administration is considering to bring down skyrocketing gas prices, and this bipartisan legislation is a timely and potent prescription to the simultaneous pocketbook, energy security, and climate challenges facing our nation.”

Growth Energy is also applauding lawmakers for introduction of the bill. “We have an opportunity to lower prices at the pump today for American drivers by increasing access to E15 fuel,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. "As gas prices across the country hit historic highs, higher blends like E15 have been selling for, in some instances, more than 50 cents cheaper per gallon. The Home Front Energy Independence Act would increase access to these cost savings across the country and all year long. 

“The war in Ukraine has also thrown America’s reliance on foreign oil, and the market uncertainty it creates, into the spotlight,” Skor continued. “The Home Front Energy Independence Act would boost U.S. energy security by increasing the supply of lower-cost, homegrown biofuels available to drivers.” 

Clean Fuels Alliance America is also speaking out in support of the bill. "The more than 65,000 U.S. workers in the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry stand ready to meet the nation’s need for cleaner, better transportation fuels,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs at Clean Fuels Alliance America. “Over the past two years, biodiesel and renewable diesel producers worked hard to maintain fuel supplies and provide value to consumers. Clean Fuels and its members applaud the strong, bipartisan action that Representatives Craig, Feenstra, Bustos and Hinson are proposing to boost America’s energy independence.”