U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin of Iowa were among a bipartisan group of 31 senators who sent a letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy Thursday as part of an ongoing effort to urge the agency to make changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard rule.
Politicians and other supporters of ethanol production spoke during the daylong hearing in Des Moines that was prompted by a proposed reduction in the amount of ethanol that must be blended with gasoline.
The senators share concerns that the EPA’s proposed rule will discourage investment and hurt job growth and rural communities across the country.
“The EPA is proposing a major step that reverses the momentum on biofuels,” said Grassley. “The progress made toward energy diversity and independence will slip away if the EPA succeeds. The sentiment from almost one-third of the U.S. Senate is the proposal needs revision. We want the EPA to reconsider. The president, as a supporter of biofuels, should weigh in as needed.”
“The intent of the RFS is to steadily increase contributions from biofuels in our transportation fuels markets to enhance our nation’s energy security, protect the environment and create jobs,” said Harkin. “The proposed rule, requiring less biofuel in 2014 than in 2013, goes against this intent and is a significant step backward.”
The EPA’s proposed rule would set the biodiesel target at 1.28 billion gallons, which is below current industry production levels of around 1.7 billion gallons. It would also reduce the total biofuels target to 15.2 billion gallons. This is 1.34 billion gallons below the 2013 target of 16.55 billion gallons and almost 3 billion gallons below the 2014 statutory target of 18.15 billion gallons.
Last week, legislators in the Iowa House and state Senate approved resolutions supporting the existing fuel standards. They are reacting to a recent EPA proposal to reduce the amount of ethanol that must be blended with gasoline in 2014.
Iowa is the nation's leading producer of ethanol, a fuel additive primarily made from corn. Iowa leaders claim the EPA's proposal would devastate the state's economy.