Biden pressured by Iowa renewable, ag leaders to support RFS
In response to a Reuters article claiming U.S. Vice President Joe Biden played an instrumental role in the Obama administration’s proposal to gut America’s renewable fuel standard (RFS), the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association joined dozens of Iowa agriculture and renewable fuels leaders to submit a letter to Vice President Biden requesting a meeting and urging him to revisit the issue.
Reminding Vice President Biden that he “campaigned in Iowa in 2007 and 2008 as a strong champion of the bipartisan, common sense renewable fuel standard,” the authors of the letter urged the vice president, “Please do not be fooled by the crocodile tears coming from the oil industry, who claim to be concerned about rising gasoline prices. Their argument is preposterous on its face.”
In part, the letter reads, “This has already become a full-blown campaign issue in Iowa in 2014, and it will be a major issue for every candidate who visits Iowa in 2016. This is a crucial juncture for America’s renewable fuel industry, and we cannot allow the oil industry to dominate the debate or bully our political leaders into backtracking to greater foreign oil dependence.”
The report in Reuters detailed an exchange between Vice President Biden and Philadelphia Congressman Robert Brady, who contacted Biden on behalf of the Carlyle Group, an alternative asset management firm that had previously purchased two oil refineries in Brady’s district, which were struggling due to lower profit margins. Biden reportedly told Brady he could fix the issue.
“If accurate, this report would confirm our worst suspicions—that Vice President Biden and the administration have done an about-face on their support for cleaner fuels, consumer choice and cutting oil dependence,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Iowans and all Americans deserve to know where the Vice President stands on the RFS. Does he really want to walk away from the only federal policy allowing market access for renewable fuels in the face of a century of policy preferences for petroleum? Abandoning the RFS would result in less competition, less consumer fuel choice and higher fuel prices, while strengthening the oil industry’s near monopoly over the transportation fuel sector.”
If true, the move to advocate for oil companies to the detriment of renewable fuels would represent a sharp break from Vice President Biden’s track record of supporting the RFS and decreasing America’s dependence on foreign oil. The alleged exchange would also be a departure from the administration’s commitment to innovative American renewables and pursuit of energy independence, more American jobs, and a brighter climate future.
In November, 2013, the EPA released a proposed rule that would reduce the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the RFS. The final rule for 2014 is set to be released in June, and oil companies have been fighting for months to weaken the RFS and block competition from cheaper, cleaner homegrown renewable fuels.
Iowa is a leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 3.8 billion gallons annually, with three cellulosic ethanol facilities currently under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.