House members urge Biden to prioritize the use of biofuels

By Erin Voegele | March 31, 2022

A group of 29 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., on March 31 sent a letter to President Biden urging him to prioritize homegrown, renewable biofuels as a replacement for Russian energy sources.

In the letter, the lawmakers applaud the administration’s actions to ban Russian oil and natural gas. “Given the Russian economy’s reliance on petroleum exports, banning the importation of Russian oil and natural gas into the United States was the right decision,” they wrote.

To ensure the ban—and future actions the U.S. may need to take to defeat Russian aggression—is economically sustainable for the U.S. economy and American people, the lawmakers are asking Biden to take two specific actions that would prioritize homegrown, renewable biofuels. “Taken together, these actions would significantly increase U.S. energy independence, lower prices at the pump and ensure the continued success of our sanctions on the Russian economy," the lawmakers wrote. 

First, the lawmakers stress that Biden should reinstate the year-round availability of E15 by either directing the U.S. EPA to use its authority under Section 211(c)(4)(C)(ii) of the Clean Air Act or by taking executive action to respond to a potential energy crisis triggered by Russian aggression. Second, the lawmakers urge Biden to direct the EPA to reverse course on its proposed retroactively reductions to the 2021 and 2021 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) and adhere to the statutory obligations of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Upholding the RFS and permanently reinstating the year-round availability of E15 would lower fuel prices for hardworking Americans,” the lawmakers wrote. “Ethanol, biodiesel, and renewable diesel add to the nation’s fuel supply, lowering prices at the pump for nearly every consumer good that moves along the supply chain. Over the last decade, wholesale ethanol has saved consumers 17 percent when compared to wholesale gasoline. A recent report indicated that a nationwide shift to E15 could collectively save U.S. consumers more than $12 billion annually. And according to a recent World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services (WAEES) study, availability of biodiesel and renewable diesel has saved consumers an average of 31 cents per gallon at the pump over the last 10 years.”

In addition to Craig, the letter is signed by Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Cindy Axne, D-Iowa; Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.; Mark Pocan, D-Wis.; Adrian Smith, R-Neb.; Mary E. Miller, R-Ill.; Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa; Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn.; Ashely Hinson, R-Iowa; Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.; Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; James R. Baird, R-Ind.; Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo.; Ron Kind, D-Wis.; Mike Bost, R-Ill.; David Scott, D-Ga.; Tracey Mann, R-Kan.; Jake LaTurner, R-Kan.; James Comer, R-Ky.; Daniel T. Kildee, D-Mich.; Darin LaHood, R-Ill.; Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.; Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa; Don Bacon, R-Neb.; Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; Robin L. Kelly, D-Ill.; and Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich.

Representatives of the biofuels industry have spoken out in support of the lawmakers’ efforts.

"We thank Rep. Craig and the rest of these House members for encouraging President Biden to embrace domestic renewable fuels as a lower-cost, lower-carbon alternative to Russian oil imports,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “E15 is typically selling for 20-30 cents per gallon less than regular gasoline right now; and as revealed by a new nationwide survey, three out of four voters support increasing the availability of E15 as a strategy for reducing pump prices and providing relief to American families. If the Biden administration fails to act on the straightforward request made by these representatives, the lowest-cost fuel available at the pump today will disappear on June 1 and drivers will face another unnecessary price hike.”

"ACE members are incredibly grateful for the leadership being demonstrated by Rep. Angie Craig to spearhead this bipartisan letter urging the President to act now to allow E15 year-round and get the Renewable Fuel Standard back on track,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol. “Ensuring year-round access to domestically-produced E15 for all parts of the country is the quickest way to address pain at the pump and make the U.S. more energy secure.”

“The message on both sides of the aisle remains loud and clear: to immediately offer relief at the pump and move toward a more secure energy sector, the Biden Administration must increase access to homegrown, low-carbon biofuels,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “As gas prices hit their peak, higher blends of biofuels like E15 were selling for more than 50 cents cheaper per gallon at the pump in some areas of the country. Increasing access to lower-cost biofuels, through year-round E15 and robust RVOs, would offer these savings to more drivers and reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil.” 

“Over the last two years, the more than 65,000 U.S. workers in the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry worked hard to maintain fuel supplies and provide value to consumers,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs at Clean Fuels Alliance America.” Clean Fuels and its members thank the members of the Biofuels Caucus – and especially Representatives Angie Craig, Rodney Davis, Cindy Axne, Dusty Johnson, Mark Pocan, and Adrian Smith – for prioritizing homegrown, clean fuels to boost America’s energy independence.”

A full copy of the letter is available on Craig’s website