A bipartisan group of 64 lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives on Wednesday asked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to consider what they say are the negative effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard, in a letter sent to Pruitt.
Pressure applied to EPA on potential changes to the RFS in recent weeks by Midwest members of Congress, led the agency to back down. This week, the EPA sent the final 2018 renewable volume obligations in the RFS to the Office of Management and Budget.
As a result of the agency's actions, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is holding up the confirmation of Bill Northey to a key USDA post, in attempt to convince President Donald Trump's administration to meet with federal lawmakers from oil-producing states about their RFS concerns.
The letter sent to Pruitt on Wednesday is led by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, Peter Welch, D-Vermont, Steve Womack, R-Arkansas, and Jim Costa, D-California.
"For over a decade, the American people have been forced to live with the Renewable Fuel Standard, a well-intentioned but deeply flawed policy that has negatively impacted families and businesses across the United States," the letter said, http://bit.ly/….
"When the RFS was first passed in 2005, it was designed to reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil, to protect the environment, and to revitalize rural America. However, as we look in the rear-view mirror, it's clear that the RFS accomplished none of these goals. By diverting more than 35% of the annual corn harvest to fuel additive, the RFS has raised the cost of livestock production, increased food price volatility and insecurity, decreased fuel efficiency, damaged small-engine equipment, hurt the environment, and chipped away at household budgets. The combined effects of this ethanol mandate have created a hidden tax on every American consumer. Simply put, in its current state, the RFS has run out of gas.
"American families and our economy have shouldered the costs of the failed ethanol mandate for far too long. As members of Congress representing communities in every region of the United States, we urge the EPA to continue to acknowledge that the RFS has significant pitfalls and costs in future rulemaking. We look forward to working with you to put forth well-founded biofuels policies that reflect market realities and benefit American families and businesses."
Renewable Fuels Association spokeswoman Rachel Gantz said the RFS has been successful.
"Rep. Bob Goodlatte and his team of ethanol critics are again spreading the same lies about the Renewable Fuel Standard, hoping the American public will fall for it," she said.
"But consumers know better. The RFS is helping bring about consumer choice by breaking big oil's monopoly at the pump and offering the cleanest, lowest-cost and highest-octane fuel on the planet. The only thing that has run out of gas is big oil's stale talking points."
The EPA had 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.
EPA also reportedly considered 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.
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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