Senators Tell EPA: Enforce Biodiesel Rules
Almost a third of the U.S. Senate, a bipartisan group of 32, wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Monday urging her to follow a 2007 energy law by setting blending standards for biodiesel for this year and next under the Renewable Fuel Standard
U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led the effort that was backed by 24 Democrats, one Independent and eight Republicans, including freshmen Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mike Rounds (R-SD).
“EPA’s recent actions have neither reflected industry capacity nor biodiesel’s separate treatment under the RFS,” the Senators wrote. “The recent delay has only compounded the effects from the November 2013 RFS proposed rule which did not adequately reflect biodiesel production levels. These actions continue to create tremendous uncertainty and hardship for the U.S. biodiesel industry and its thousands of employees. Plants have reduced production and some have been forced to shut down, resulting in layoffs and lost economic productivity. We urge you to get biodiesel back on schedule under the statutorily prescribed Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) process and quickly issue volumes for 2014 at the actual 2014 production numbers. We also hope you move forward on the 2015 and 2016 biodiesel volumes in a timely manner, ensuring that these delays do not become the norm for the industry.”
The senators said that last year, nearly 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers scaled back production and almost 6 in 10 idled production altogether. Additionally, two-thirds of producers said they have already reduced or anticipate reducing their workforce as a result of the downturn. The Senators emphasized the need for the agency to respond with new production levels immediately and to make production level decisions in a timely manner going forward.
Half of the senators are from Midwest that produce biodiesel and its crop feedstocks but they also include those who back biodiesel for its environmental benefits. Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) were among several from the east and west coasts who signed the letter.