California delegation issues letter to EPA in support of RFS

By Erin Voegele | August 09, 2016

On Aug. 8, members of the California delegation sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, urging the agency to increase final renewable fuel standard (RFS) blending targets to statutory levels. The letter also highlights the importance of the RFS program and notes that the EPA’s flawed methodology would absolve obligated parties from requirements to provide higher biofuel blends.

Within the letter, the delegation indicates companies in California are working on a wide range of biofuels, from algae and biodiesel to those involving municipal solid waste, supporting nearly 60,000 jobs within the state. The letter stresses that the EPA’s proposed RFS rule for 2017 threatens progress being made in the sector.

Regarding the “distribution wavier” methodology employed by the EPA, the delegation states it has had a chilling effect on biofuels investment since initially proposed in November 2013. “Under this methodology, which Congress previously rejected, EPA allows the oil industry to avoid its statutory blending obligation by claiming there is inadequate infrastructure to bring more biofuels to consumers,” said the delegation in the letter. “Yet due to the fact that the oil industry controls the fuel distribution infrastructure, the EPA is essentially allowing the oil industry to cap the RFS and limit future growth in the biofuels sector. Since first proposed in 2013, these distribution waivers have created considerable uncertainty, stalled investment in biofuels, and driven innovation and investment overseas.” The letter also notes that there has not been a single commercial-scale cellulosic project announced in the U.S. since the 2013 rule was proposed, while development is proceeding in Brazil, Europe and China.

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, has spoken out in support of the letter. “The letter explicitly urges EPA to put the RFS program back on track by finalizing blending targets that are in line with Congress’ original intent,” she said. “The RFS program has been a resounding success. EPA’s methodology, as it currently stands will let the obligated parties off the hook, decreasing the commercial availability of higher blends, such as E15. By returning to the statutory levels, the administration would will send a signal to the renewable fuels industry that they are committed to achieving the goals of carbon reduction, a free and fair fuel marketplace where consumers have a choice, and reaffirm their commitment to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”

“We commend these members of Congress for supporting renewable fuels by acknowledging the industry’s tremendous innovation, investment and contributions. The biofuels industry and the RFS are advancing consumer choice, job creation and environmental improvement by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing other toxic alternatives, which have been proven to cause cancer, smog and groundwater contamination. Getting the RFS back on track is critical if we wish to continue to build on the progress already achieved,” Skor continued. “The RFS is our nation’s most successful energy policy, and the biofuels industry is an American success story. We thank this group of representatives for their commitment to fostering growth in the American biofuels industry, and stand with them in support.”

A copy of the letter can be downloaded from the website of Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.