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Ernst Works to Address Concerns on Used Cooking Oil Imports

Dramatic increase in imports drives down demand for homegrown American crops.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) joined her colleagues in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and United States Trade Representative (USTR) expressing concerns with the recent and dramatic increase in used cooking oil (UCO) imports—over half of which came directly from China.

“Since 2020, in response to demand for renewable fuels, the U.S. has gone from importing less than 200 million pounds of UCO per year to importing over 3 billion pounds in 2023, with more than 50 percent of these imports coming from China,” the senators wrote. “…there is concern by some in the renewable fuels industry that large amounts of imported UCO may be a blend of UCO with virgin vegetable oils…”

“We understand there are good actors utilizing UCO as part of a diverse array of feedstocks in their renewable fuel production, and domestic sources of UCO are held to rigorous verification and traceability requirements,” the senators continued, However, we are concerned with the lack of transparency surrounding the United States’ efforts in the area of verifying imported UCO, specifically as it related to 1) ensuring the integrity of the imported UCO by validating that traceability requirements have been met; and 2) evaluating the chemical composition of the imported UCO.”

Ernst and her colleagues also reiterated their commitment to protecting the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ensuring only legitimate feedstocks benefit from U.S. tax incentives and Renewable Identification Number (RIN) generation.

Read the full letter here.


Throughout her time in Congress, Ernst has been a strong advocate for homegrown, Iowa biofuels, including by calling on the White House to make E15 available year-round and country-wide, adhere to the GREET model to provide domestic producers with a seat at the table, amend its harmful decision to set the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) levels well below industry production capacity, and raise RFS volumes for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels.