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Environmental group urges Biden to wean nation's biofuel program off liquid fuels

By Jarrett Renshaw

June 3 (Reuters) - The Biden administration should rely less on liquid fuels like ethanol and focus more on cleaner technology like electric vehicles (EVs) and advanced biofuels when it reshapes the nation's renewable fuel program, environmental group Evergreen Action said in a report released on Friday.

Evergreen Action was among a handful of environmental groups that advised U.S. President Joe Biden's transition team and has been an ally as the administration seeks to get climate change legislation through Congress.

This year, the Biden administration is poised to "reset" the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which was passed in 2005 and expanded in 2007 to require increasing amounts of biofuels to be blended into U.S. gasoline and diesel supplies. Many of the congressional restrictions lapse next year, allowing the administration to set new quotas and other guidelines.

Evergreen Action said the initial focus on renewable energy was a smart way to make the country less reliant on foreign oil but the climate crisis has now shifted priorities.

"We need to focus less on renewable fuel and more on promoting cleaner, non-polluting, low carbon fuels," said Sam Ricketts, an Evergreen co-founder who helped author the report.

The group said the focus on blending renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel sustains the oil industry's footprint in the transportation sector, potentially slowing the shift to electric vehicles.

The administration should also change the way it scores different biofuels for their environmental impact to take into account things like land use changes, water pollution, soil degradation and emissions, the report says.

The RFS requires refiners to blend biofuels like ethanol into the fuel pool or buy credits generated from those who do blend. Evergreen is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to allow energy producers to earn tradable credits for technologies or products that have lower environmental or climate impact.

The group is also asking the administration to better wield the power of the Clean Air Act to hold blenders and gasoline retailers accountable for their carbon emissions as a way to encourage more EV charging stations.

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; editing by Richard Pullin)

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