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April 17, 2017, 07:41:44 AM

Brown Joins Bipartisan Group of 19 Senators in Calling on Environmental Protection Agency to Increase Biodiesel Fuel Targets

March 24m 2015 - 10:29 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a bipartisan group of 19 senators in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarty, urging the EPA to continue the trend of increasing support for the nation’s renewable fuel sector.

“Biofuel is American-made energy that won’t run out, and increasing biofuel volumes will help secure our energy future and strengthen Ohio’s economy,” Brown said. “I urge the EPA to take action to spur the growth of next generation biofuels made from American-grown crops like Ohio soybeans and give farmers the targets they need to grow the domestic biodiesel industry.”

Last year, EPA increased the target for renewable fuel volumes. However, these targets have been lowered and, as a result, no new cellulosic plants have been built since 2013.

Nearly half of the U.S.’s biodiesel supply – which burns more cleanly than oil and allows the U.S. to diversify its fuel production – is produced using soybean oil. In 2012, Ohio ranked sixth in the nation for soybean production – yielding $5.3 billion in economic impact. In April 2014, the Ohio Soybean Association named Brown Legislator of the Year for his work advocating for soybean farmers.

Full text of the letter is available below.

March 23, 2016

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

We are writing to you in the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule issued on November 30, 2015, which set blending targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

While we are pleased that the EPA increased the renewable fuel volumes from the proposed to the final rule, we remain concerned that it continues to use distribution infrastructure as a factor in setting blending targets. The lack of distribution infrastructure was explicitly rejected by Congress as a reason to grant a waiver when the statute was adopted in 2005.

Upon issuance of this final rule, EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe stated, “The biofuel industry is an incredible American success story, and the RFS program has been an important driver of that success—cutting carbon pollution, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and sparking rural economic development.” And over the past year, you’ve reiterated the importance of biofuels as a spark plug for rural economies and as an important part of the President’s energy strategy, stating that “we need to get the program back on track.”

Unfortunately, the final rule did not get the program back on track, and as a result, it is not generating growth in the biofuel sector. Since the proposal was first leaked in the fall of 2013, not a single new cellulosic project has broken ground in the United States and many planned or previously announced projects have been halted. In the meantime, new investments in cellulosic projects continue to emerge in China, Europe, and Brazil. The final rule for 2014, 2015, and 2016 did not change this trend.

The EPA should reverse course and release a rule this year that follows congressional intent. The forthcoming proposal to set blending targets for 2017 is the EPA’s chance to fulfill the commitment that you and Assistant Administrator McCabe made to get the program back on track. We hope you take this opportunity.

A strong RFS makes our country more energy secure, increases competition and consumer choice in our transportation sector, and ultimately strengthens our economy. We need a strong RFS, and we need more biofuels. We expect that you will get the program “back on track,” and we look forward to seeing a proposed rule released on time that removes the distribution waiver and re-establishes the United States as a leader in the biofuel sector.

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