Ethanol Blog

Senators Press for Higher Biodiesel RFS Volumes

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Nearly half of all United States senators are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to boost biodiesel volumes in the proposed 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard. The senators wrote a letter to the agency Thursday asking for the increase.

At present, biodiesel is the only commercially viable advanced biofuel, according to the RFS. EPA has taken heat on the proposed RFS that calls for 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel to be blended.

Industry officials have petitioned EPA to bump that number to at least 2.5 billion gallons, as the industry currently has a production capacity of about 3.2 billion gallons.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, senators said biodiesel and renewable diesel are leading the way in delivering advanced biofuels in the RFS.

"The biodiesel industry has met RFS criteria for growth, exceeding the goals that Congress envisioned when it created the RFS with bipartisan support in 2005 and supporting over 47,000 jobs," the letter stated. "To date, biodiesel and renewable diesel have delivered the majority of the advanced biofuels under the RFS. We believe it is clear that these fuels offer the best opportunity for growth in the near future.

"We have made great progress through the RFS in diversifying our nation's fuel supply while creating and sustaining jobs, generating tax revenues, and improving energy security."

Republican senators that signed the letter were Charles Grassley, Iowa; Susan Collins, Maine; Joni Ernst, Iowa; John Hoeven, N.D.; Mark Kirk, Ill.; Jerry Moran, Kan.; Pat Roberts, Kan.; Mike Rounds, S.D.; John Thune, S.D.; and Roy Blunt, Mo.; along with Independent Bernie Sanders, Vt.

The Democrats include Patty Murray, Wash.; Heidi Heitkamp, N.D.; Tammy Baldwin, Wis.; Richard Blumenthal, Conn.; Barbara Boxer, Calif.; Sherrod Brown, Ohio; Maria Cantwell, Wash.; Bob Casey, Pa.; Joe Donnelly, Ind.; Richard Durbin, Ill.; Dianne Feinstein, Calif.; Al Franken, Minn.; Martin Heinrich, N.M.; Mazie Hirono, Hawaii; Angus King, Maine; Amy Klobuchar, Minn.; Patrick Leahy, Vt.; Edward Markey, Mass.; Claire McCaskill, Mo.; Jeff Merkley, Ore.; Gary Peters, Mich.; Jack Reed, R.I.; Jeanne Shaheen, N.H; Debbie Stabenow, Mich.; Jon Tester, Mont.; Tom Udall, N.M.; Elizabeth Warren, Mass.; Sheldon Whitehouse, R.I.; and Ron Wyden, Ore.

The industry also is holding out hope of the passage of a bill that would give a three-year extension of the $1 blenders tax credit, and give the credit to biodiesel producers instead of blenders. Industry officials have said the legislation likely will be a victim of presidential-year politics and face delays until after the election. The credit expires Dec. 31, 2016.

According to EPA analysis, biodiesel is said to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 57% to 86% compared to petroleum diesel.

Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board, said in a news release Thursday that support for biodiesel is gaining steam in Congress.

"I think this letter reflects a growing consensus on Capitol Hill that biodiesel and renewable diesel are successfully delivering the economic and environmental benefits that Congress had in mind when it created the RFS," she said.

"This is a success story, and hopefully this letter helps show the Obama administration and the EPA that we need to do more. We need to embrace growth in our cleanest fuels, and the EPA proposal as it stands falls short of that."

Read the letter here: http://bit.ly/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

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