Klobuchar, Grassley introduce Defend the Blend Act

By Erin Voegele | December 14, 2021

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Dec. 14 introduced a bill that aims to prohibit the U.S. EPA from retroactively reducing Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations (RVOs). A companion bill is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Defend the Blend Act would stop the EPA from reducing the minimum applicable volume of biofuels into transportation fuel once the RVO levels are finalized for any given year. This would prevent the EPA from retroactively reducing 2020 or future finalized RVOs.

The EPA has currently has once such proposal pending. The agency on Dec. 7 released a proposed rule that, in part, seeks to reduce the 2020 RVOs, which were originally finalized in late 2019. 

To date, Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, have signed on to cosponsor the Senate bill. Companion legislation was introduced in the House on Nov. 23 by Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa.

“Our farmers and rural communities are counting on us to uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation will stop retroactive changes to Renewable Volume Obligations so the renewable fuels industry has the certainty and stability it needs to create jobs, drive investment, and cut carbon emissions from the existing vehicle fleet.”

“Time and time again, renewable fuels have shown to be key in cutting both greenhouse gas emissions and costs at the pump. Yet, past and present administrations have overlooked the value of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), creating uncertainty for Iowa farmers and producers. With EPA’s most recent proposed action of lowering RVO numbers from 2020’s final rule, who’s to say that won’t happen again? It is critical that we establish new safeguards that uphold the RFS and ensure all administrations remain committed to following the law,” Grassley said.

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

“This bill comes at a critical time,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “Just last week, EPA proposed an unprecedented retroactive reduction to the 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) that were finalized more than two years ago. The RFS was created to provide long-term market certainty for our nation’s ethanol producers and farmers. Going back in time to slash RFS volumes—long after they have been finalized—undermines the purpose and intent of program and destabilizes the marketplace. We thank Sens. Klobuchar, Grassley, Duckworth and Ernst for working together to ensure the integrity of the RFS is being maintained and EPA is being held accountable.”

“ACE thanks these bipartisan Senators for introducing the Defend the Blend Act to help ensure EPA and oil refiners follow the law when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “In light of last week’s proposed retroactive cuts to the 2020 biofuel blending obligations, this bill makes clear that going back in time and revising targets that already self-adjusted not only goes against Congressional intent but is likely illegal. We need EPA to quit playing politics when it comes to administering the program and instead look to it as an important tool to immediately make progress toward decarbonization goals for the transportation sector.”

“We’re grateful to Senators Klobuchar, Grassley, Duckworth and Ernst for introducing the Defend the Blend Act in the Senate, legislation that would offer more certainty in the marketplace, especially after EPA’s recent proposal to retroactively lower 2020 RVOs,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The Renewable Fuel Standard was put into place to blend more low-carbon biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply, and it includes a built-in mechanism that adjusts for changes in fuel demand. Retroactively reducing RVO levels is completely unwarranted and unnecessary, adds uncertainty to the marketplace, and exceeds EPA’s legal authority.” 




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