WASHINGTON—Following President Biden’s
move to roll back 2020 RVOs and lower 2021 RVOs that strip out billions of gallons of demand, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are introducing bipartisan legislation to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from reducing the minimum applicable volume of biofuels into transportation fuel once the RVO levels are finalized for any given year. This bill would prevent the EPA from retroactively reducing 2020 or future finalized RVO levels.
“Iowa’s farmers and producers work day in and day out to offer consumers cleaner, more affordable choices at the pump, yet their livelihoods continue to be impacted by bureaucrats in Washington who refuse to uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard. This bipartisan bill will ensure the law is followed and in turn provide more certainty and predictability to our renewable fuel industry,” said Senator Ernst.
“Time and time again, renewable fuels have shown to be key in cutting both greenhouse gas emissions and costs at the pump. Yet, past and present administrations have overlooked the value of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), creating uncertainty for Iowa farmers and producers. With EPA’s most recent proposed action of lowering RVO numbers from 2020’s final rule, who’s to say that won’t happen again? It is critical that we establish new safeguards that uphold the RFS and ensure all administrations remain committed to following the law,” said Senator Grassley.
“IRFA members thank Sens. Grassley and Ernst for seeking certainty for the RFS. The recent EPA proposal to reopen the finalized 2020 RFS rule highlights the need for certainty. A final rule is supposed to be a final rule. Left unchecked, uncertainly could cripple the RFS as any rule could be rewritten on a whim in the future. Iowa biofuels supporters hope this bipartisan bill will cause the EPA to rethink their proposal to reopen the 2020 rule, and we need Congress to pass this bill to ensure no rewriting of history is attempted in the future,” Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said.
“We’re grateful to Senators Klobuchar, Grassley, Duckworth and Ernst for introducing the Defend the Blend Act in the Senate, legislation that would offer more certainty in the marketplace, especially after EPA’s recent proposal to retroactively lower 2020 RVOs. The RFS was put into place to blend more low-carbon biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply, and it includes a built-in mechanism that adjusts for changes in fuel demand. Retroactively reducing RVO levels is completely unwarranted and unnecessary, adds uncertainty to the marketplace and exceeds EPA’s legal authority,” Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, said.
“ACE thanks these bipartisan Senators for introducing the Defend the Blend Act to help ensure EPA and oil refiners follow the law when it comes to the RFS. In light of last week’s proposed retroactive cuts to the 2020 biofuel blending obligations, this bill makes clear that going back in time and revising targets that already self-adjusted not only goes against Congressional intent but is likely illegal. We need EPA to quit playing politics when it comes to administering the program and instead look to it as an important tool to immediately make progress toward decarbonization goals for the transportation sector,” Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol CEO, said.
“This bill comes at a critical time. Just last week, EPA proposed an unprecedented retroactive reduction to the 2020 RVOs that were finalized more than two years ago. The RFS was created to provide long-term market certainty for our nation’s ethanol producers and farmers. Going back in time to slash RFS volumes—long after they have been finalized—undermines the purpose and intent of program and destabilizes the marketplace. We thank Sens. Klobuchar, Grassley, Duckworth and Ernst for working together to ensure the integrity of the RFS is being maintained and EPA is being held accountable,” Geoff Cooper, RFA President and CEO, said.
Ernst has been a longtime champion of Iowa’s biofuel producers and farmers and a fierce defender of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Earlier this year, Ernst reminded President Biden of the promises he made on the campaign trail to support the biofuel industry and the family farmers who rely on it, after reports indicated that the Biden Administration was weighing bailouts for Big Oil and undermining the RFS. Ernst, along with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), also sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on actions by the Biden Administration that have the potential to harm Iowa’s agriculture industry, including the rumored plans to undercut the RFS.
This summer, Ernst joined several senators in calling for a meeting with President Biden and his Cabinet on biofuel, expressing concern with the administration’s policies. In a letter to the president, the lawmakers called for specific actions from the administration, including formally recognizing the reduced carbon emissions of biofuel, expanding export opportunities, promoting biofuel blending infrastructure, ensuring access to E15 year-round, and enforcing the RFS.
Last week, Ernst slammed President Biden’s decision to reopen the finalized 2020 RVO rule and lower 2021 RVOs that strip out billions of gallons of biofuel demand, going back on multiple campaign promises he made to Iowa farmers and producers.
To read Ernst’s column on President Biden’s failed biofuel agenda, click here.