U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt assured a group of senators on Tuesday he will continue to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard, according to a statement from Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, following a meeting with Pruitt.
The EPA announced in a notice a proposal to further reduce the renewable volume blend requirements for advanced biofuels, biomass-based diesel volumes for 2018 and 2019, and the total renewable fuel volumes in the RFS.
Secondly, a report surfaced that EPA is considering a proposal from Valero Energy to leave renewable identification numbers, or RINs, attached to U.S. ethanol gallons produced in the U.S. and exported. Currently, the credits are removed from exported gallons. The biofuels industry is concerned that doing so would flood the market with RINs and harm domestic biofuel producers.
The proposals have drawn outrage from biofuels and agriculture groups, who are pressing President Donald Trump's administration to uphold the RFS.
Ernst said in a statement on Tuesday that she remains skeptical of Pruitt's commitment to the RFS.
"Our meeting today was another clear demonstration that biofuel-producing states will never stop fighting to protect the RFS," Ernst said in a statement.
"Administrator Pruitt again claimed today that he will not do anything to undermine the program. However, we have heard this before. We now need to see it. I will continue to work with the EPA, but they must prove to the agricultural community who put their faith in this administration that they will fulfill their promise to maintain the letter and the spirit of the RFS. We will not accept anything less."
Ernst joined Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, and John Thune, R-South Dakota, in a meeting with Pruitt in Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon.
"Throughout his confirmation process, Administrator Pruitt promised me multiple times that he would uphold the spirit of the RFS, as intended by Congress," Ernst said in her statement.
"Additionally, the president has consistently stated his support for biofuels and made it clear to Administrator Pruitt that he is supportive of the RFS. While the administrator has insisted that the recent actions taken by the EPA are simply to receive additional input on the RFS from stakeholders, it is evident that the 'stakeholders' he refers to are not the farmers and manufacturers across the state of Iowa who would be directly affected if the biodiesel volume requirements were lowered."
Ernst is a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Renewable Fuels Association President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen said in a statement, "We appreciate the vigilance of Sens. Grassley, Thune, Fischer, Ernst and others to ensure the Renewable Fuel Standard continues to be implemented by the EPA as Congress intended. The senators' continued efforts to hold the president and the EPA administrator to commitments made during the campaign and nomination process, respectively, is invaluable to ensure more than a decade of progress of increasing consumer choice at the pump is not unraveled."
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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