Senators Push EPA to Walk Back Changes to Renewable-Fuel Standard

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) leads a news conference to highlight the impact of the federal government partial shutdown on government workers in the National Capital Region and across the country in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill October 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of 'non-essential' federal employees across the country were furloughed after House Repulicans and Senate Democrats couldn't settle on a budget and the government shut down for the first time in 17 years. 
Chip Somodevilla AFP/Getty
Clare Foran
Jan. 30, 2014, 7:37 a.m.

A bi­par­tis­an group of sen­at­ors wants the ad­min­is­tra­tion to back down from pro­posed changes to the re­new­able-fuel stand­ard, a man­date re­quir­ing tar­get amounts of re­new­able fuels to be blen­ded in­to the U.S. fuel sup­ply each year.

The let­ter, sent to EPA Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy on Thursday by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md, Susan Collins, R-Maine, Di­anne Fein­stein, D-Cal­if., Bill Nel­son, D-Fla., and six oth­er sen­at­ors, takes is­sue with the agency’s draft pro­pos­al for the 2014 man­date and its sug­ges­ted cut­back to the ad­vanced-bio­fuels por­tion of the man­date.

The pro­pos­al would provide for 2.2 bil­lion gal­lons of ad­vanced bio­fuels to be blen­ded in­to gas­ol­ine — a cut­back of 1.5 bil­lion gal­lons com­pared with the tar­get amount spelled out in the En­ergy Se­cur­ity and In­de­pend­ence Act of 2007.

The sen­at­ors say that while they un­der­stand that EPA has jur­is­dic­tion to re­view and re­vise the stand­ard, rolling back the man­date for ad­vanced bio­fuels is un­ne­ces­sary.

“Do­mest­ic pro­du­cers are mak­ing real, on-the-ground pro­gress in ex­pand­ing pro­duc­tion to achieve broad­er com­mer­cial­iz­a­tion of ad­vanced bio­fuels,” the sen­at­ors write.

The let­ter goes on to warn that if EPA moves to lower the ad­vanced-bio­fuels tar­get, it could halt in­vest­ment in the in­dustry. It calls the agency’s pro­pos­al “the wrong ap­proach.”

“If the fi­nal rule were to in­clude the pro­posed level of 2.2 bil­lion gal­lons for ad­vanced bio­fuels … the 2014 RVO [re­new­able volume ob­lig­a­tions] will nearly be halved, thus tak­ing away any prac­tic­al in­cent­ive for fu­ture in­vest­ment in ad­vanced bio­fuels.”

The let­ter comes just days after the agency ended the pub­lic com­ment peri­od on the draft pro­pos­al, which was re­leased in Novem­ber.

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