WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) stressed the importance of biofuels to rural communities and the need to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the nomination of Mary Bridget Neumayr to be a Member of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

“The RFS is critical to America’s farmers and this has been in the headlines as of late. It is an issue that’s very important to me and a number of my colleagues and of course our rural communities. In 2016 and 2017, we’ve learned that EPA, under former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s leadership, granted 48 small refinery hardship exemptions of the 53 petitions that had been submitted to the Agency.  These waivers effectively reduced the 2016 and 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations by a combined 2.25 billion gallons of biofuels, which has significantly weakened the demand for biofuels, put thousands of our jobs in jeopardy and truly undermined congressional intent of the law,” said Senator Ernst. 

Senator Ernst continued to press Ms. Neumayr on the RFS, particularly the benefits offering E15 year-round would have on Iowa growers and fuel retailers across the country. While CEQ does not directly engage in the administration of the RFS, Mrs. Neumayr will serve as an adviser in close proximity to the President, who has repeatedly pledged his support for the RFS and rural America.

“As you know, E15 is a federally approved blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent regular gasoline. Fuel retailers across the country want to offer E15 year-round, and these retailers have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure to help make this possible. However, we do have an outdated Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) regulation which is blocking them from offering E15 during the summer months – which would be June 1 through September 15.  The year-round sale of higher ethanol blends, like E15, would provide benefits not only to farmers, but also to consumers and our environment,” said Senator Ernst.

In response to Senator Ernst’s questions, Ms. Neumayr stated that, if confirmed, she will seek to support RFS implementation consistent with the intent of the law, congressional directives and the President’s commitments. She also pledged to engage with the biofuel industry and all key stakeholders when dealing with any issue pertaining to the RFS.

Watch Senator Ernst’s questioning of the nominee here or by clicking on the image below.