54 US representatives tell Obama, EPA to increase biodiesel RFS
Fifty-four members of Congress representing 24 states called on the Obama administration Dec. 18 to boost its proposal for biodiesel production under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) next year.
Biodiesel—made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats—is the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. It is on pace for record production of 1.7 billion gallons this year. Yet in its recent RFS draft, the EPA proposed reducing biodiesel production to 1.28 billion gallons for 2014 and 2015.
In a letter led by U.S. Reps. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, and Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., the U.S. representatives—a bipartisan group representing districts from California to Iowa to Florida—called on the administration to establish an RFS volume that is at least consistent with this year’s anticipated production of 1.7 billion gallons. The letter, which can be found here, was sent to the EPA and other administration officials.
“It is clear that biodiesel has been a great RFS success story,” the lawmakers write. “It has exceeded RFS targets in each year and is clearly poised to do so again in 2013. This type of reduction could have very damaging repercussions. It could result in dozens of biodiesel facilities shutting down permanently and ceasing production.”
“We would strongly urge you to continue your support for this developing and fragile industry with a reasonable increase in the RFS volume requirement for 2014 and responsible growth in the future,” the letter states.
A similar letter was sent last month from 32 U.S. senators. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the industry trade association, has warned that the EPA proposal will lead to a sharp drop in production, creating layoffs and plant closures. The proposal also sends a devastating signal to investors that threatens future growth in the industry, while damaging prospects for other future alternatives to petroleum.
“The recent proposal by the EPA was an unnecessary and unwise setback to an industry that continues to surpass expectations and supports 62,200 jobs and nearly $17 billion in total economic impact,” Rep. Latham said. “The repercussions of such a short-sighted proposal could be devastating to the biodiesel industry; the many men and women it employees; and to necessary future investment. America must continue to recognize the impressive growth of biodiesel over the past few years and the critical role it has played in improving our nation’s energy security, creating more competition and providing American consumers with more options at the pump.”
Rep. McIntyre said, “We have made great strides toward reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil while diversifying the feedstocks we use to produce renewables, particularly in the biodiesel industry. The EPA must take into account the current production of biodiesel fuels before altering the volume requirements for the upcoming years. We are calling upon the administration to set the RFS volume at a common-sense level so that we save jobs and create a sustainable energy future for the next generation.”
Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs, said, “I think this letter reflects a growing consensus that the EPA got it wrong on biodiesel in this proposal and should reconsider the draft and increase the volume to reflect actual market conditions. I want to thank all the lawmakers who signed it, and particularly Reps. Latham and McIntyre for their strong leadership.”
Biodiesel is the first and only commercial-scale fuel produced across the U.S. to meet the EPA’s definition as an Advanced Biofuel—meaning the EPA has determined that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel. Produced in nearly every state in the country, the industry has exceeded RFS requirements in every year of the program, producing more than 1 billion gallons annually since 2011. It is on pace to produce at least 1.7 billion gallons in 2013, supporting more than 62,000 jobs nationwide.