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Bipartisan Group of Senators Urges EPA’s Pruitt to Protect Biodiesel in the RFS

Oct 16, 2017
EPA’s Proposed Changes Are Inconsistent with Pruitt’s Assurance to Uphold the Law

NEWS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Contact: Rosemarie Calabro Tully
202-641-6209
rcalabrotully@biodiesel.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today a bipartisan group of 33 senators sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on the recently proposed changes to America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), urging them to increase the volumes of biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuel in the final rule.

Reducing volumes—and especially those [Renewable Volume Obligations] RVOs that were previously finalized—is disruptive, unprecedented and very troubling,” the senators write. “These volumes do not meet actual biodiesel production capacity in the United States, and could have a negative impact on jobs and economies in rural communities across the nation.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a request for additional comments on reducing previously finalized volumes required by the RFS program and on using waiver authorities to further reduce biodiesel volumes. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has serious concerns with EPA’s recent actions and made their concerns known with these biodiesel champions in the Senate. The latest proposed cuts to the RFS volumes threaten jobs in rural America, negatively affect the companies who have invested to comply with the law, and undermine the energy security goals of the RFS program.

EPA should seek comment on factors that warrant HIGHER advanced biofuel and biomass-based diesel volumes in order to achieve Congress’s goals of diversifying our fuel supply, supporting rural jobs and enhancing U.S. energy security. Instead, the recent request for comment from EPA flaunts these objectives—with the potential to eradicate jobs and bankrupt farmers,” said Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer at the National Biodiesel Board.

In the letter, the senators called on EPA Administrator Pruitt to support the job creation and agricultural benefits that higher volumes of biofuels provide: “the proposed volumes … could cause near-term job losses and discourage investment in capacity and new fuel development.”

Led by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), 29 other senators signed onto the letter, including Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.),  Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Angus King (D-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

And earlier today, four Republican governors sent a similar letter calling on the president to support higher biodiesel volumes under the RFS.

Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is the nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel. Biodiesel supports roughly 64,000 jobs across the United States.

The National Biodiesel Board is the U.S. trade association representing the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries, including producers, feedstock suppliers and fuel distributors.

The full text of the letter is available below.

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October 16, 2017

The Honorable Scott Pruitt
Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

We write in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for advanced biofuel for calendar year 2018 and biomass-based diesel for calendar year 2019, as well as the recent Notice of Data Availability (NODA). The NODA requests comments on reducing previously finalized RVOs, threatening business plans and investments already made based upon a final rule issued in December 2016. These proposed volumes do not meet actual biodiesel production capacity in the United States, and could have a negative impact on jobs and economies in rural communities across the nation. Therefore, we urge you to increase these volumes in the final rule.

Biodiesel is the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to reach commercial scale production nationwide. The biodiesel industry has met RFS criteria for growth each year, exceeding the goals that Congress envisioned when it created the RFS with bipartisan support. In addition, biodiesel has consistently made up the majority of the advanced biofuel volumes. This ability to meet or exceed RVOs coupled with the substantial investment made by the biodiesel industry indicate that these fuels offer the best opportunity for continued growth in the near future.

EPA’s proposal would hold the biomass-based diesel volume for 2019 stagnant at 2.1 billion gallons and decrease the advanced biofuel volume for 2018 to 4.24 billion gallons. These proposed volumes do not reflect the existing potential for the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries in our states and could cause near-term job losses and discourage investment in capacity and new fuel development. It is estimated that every 500 million gallons of increased biodiesel production supports roughly 16,000 jobs.

Further, EPA’s NODA solicits comments on whether it could further reduce the total, advanced, and biomass-based diesel volumes through several different waiver mechanisms. However, there is ample available feedstock, refining capacity, and room for growth in the domestic biodiesel industry. The industry is poised for growth, in accordance with the intent of the law, if EPA sends the market signals with increased volumes. Reducing volumes and especially those RVOs that were previously finalized is disruptive, unprecedented, and very troubling.

We have made great progress through the RFS in diversifying our nation’s fuel supply while creating and sustaining jobs, strengthening local economies, generating tax revenues, and improving energy security. We urge you to support higher RVOs for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels in the final rule to encourage additional development and use of this fuel.

Thank you for your consideration.

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For more information on biodiesel, visit www.biodiesel.org