Senators Seek Biodiesel Hike in RFS

STREATOR, Ill. (DTN) -- On Monday, 36 U.S. senators urged the Obama administration to strengthen the mandated volume for biodiesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard above what has been proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., wrote the letter signed by Democrats and Republicans from 24 states.

Biodiesel falls under the biomass-based diesel category of the RFS, which is a subset of the overall advanced biofuels category. The EPA proposal, which is slated to be finalized in November, would gradually raise biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. The overall Advanced Biofuel standard would rise to 3.4 billion gallons in 2016.

"While the proposal is a positive step for biodiesel, we remain concerned that the proposed biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 fail to adequately recognize the domestic biodiesel industry's production capacity and its ability to increase production," the senators wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other administration officials.

They explained biodiesel is the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel under the RFS to reach commercial scale production nationwide.

"It is exceeding the goals that Congress envisioned when it created the RFS with bipartisan support in 2005, while creating jobs, generating tax revenues, reducing pollution, and improving energy security," they said.

"We urge you to support continued growth in the domestic biodiesel industry by making reasonable and sustainable increases in the biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 in the final rule."

"We hope the EPA and the White House will listen and improve this proposal before it is finalized later this year," said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, a biodiesel trade association.