House members advocate for strong RFS, year-round E15 sales

By Erin Voegele | September 19, 2018

Reps. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., leaders of the bipartisan Biofuels Caucus, led more than 20 House members in sending a letter to the U.S. EPA urging the agency to approve year-round E15.

The letter, dated Sept. 13, encourages Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheler and the Trump administration to reduce federal regulations on ethanol instead of implementing policies that work against farmers and slow the biofuels markets down.

Within the letter, the House members ask the agency to increase proposed renewable volume obligation (RVOs) for biomass-based diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard and address the 48 retroactive small refinery hardship waivers the EPA approved for compliance years 2016 and 2017. Those 48 waivers effectively eliminated demand for 2.25 billion gallons of biofuel.

“The 2019 RVO targets and the success of the RFS will continue to be undermined if the EAP does not account for further waivers,” the House members said in the letter. “We urge the EPA to put an end to these secret waivers until a process is established to make the name of the refinery, the gallons waived, and other relevant information publicly available. Additionally, accounting for any 2019 waived gallons in the final rule would help ensure biofuel production is not harmed by retroactive refinery exemptions.”

“Instead of advancing policies that would hurt farmers and prevent market growth of ethanol, we encourage you to also consider reducing regulations, like those that prohibit the year-round sale of E15,” the House members continued in the letter. “This regulatory change would increase consumption of biofuels while also lowering RIN prices, which eases implementation of the RFS and provide consumers with another choice at the pump.”

In addition to Noem and Peterson, the letter is signed by Reps. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa; Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Steve King, R-Iowa; Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; Mark Pocan, D-Wisc.; Rod Blum, R-Iowa; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Adrian Smith, R-Neb.; Darin LaHood, R-Ill.; Sam Graves, R-Mo.; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Tim Walz, D-Minn.; Ron Estes, R-Kan.; Don Bacon, R-Neb.; Richard M. Nolan, D-Minn.; Tom Emmer, R-Minn.; Mike Bost, R-Ill.; David Young, R-Iowa; Kevin Yoder, R-Kan.; Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio; Andre Carson, D-Ind.; and Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo.

The Renewable Fuels Association has spoken out in support of the letter. “We greatly appreciate the support of the House Biofuels Caucus and welcome their voice to the growing chorus of consumers, farmers, and fuel choice advocates who all recognize the need for administrative action repealing this antiquated regulation today,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA. “The year-round use of E15 would empower consumers to choose a higher octane, lower priced fuel, provide farmers struggling with chronically low commodity prices with an important value-added market, and send a strong signal to the marketplace to invest in the infrastructure and technologies that will lead to higher ethanol blends. The time to act is now.” 

Growth Energy has also expressed support for the letter. “We’re deeply grateful to our rural champions for standing united behind a strong RFS and fighting for better, more affordable options at the fuel pump,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “It is vital that the EPA uphold President Trump’s commitment to American biofuels and immediately tear down outdated regulatory barriers against the summertime sale of E15. Opening the market to year-round competition will help to revitalize farm income and restore growth in rural communities hit hardest by the agricultural downturn.”

“EPA waivers have destroyed billions of gallons of biofuel demand and cut a key market for U.S. farmers,” Skor continued. “To reverse the damage, the EPA should listen to rural lawmakers, restore those gallons, and unlock E15—a move that could create demand for two billion bushels of American corn.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from Noem’s website