Senators call for strong Renewable Fuel Standard
WILLISTON, N.D. - A bipartisan group of senators, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is urging the president to maintain the point of obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard and to reject...
WILLISTON, N.D. – A bipartisan group of senators, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is urging the president to maintain the point of obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard and to reject proposed changes that would upend the current system, which has worked well for North Dakota farmers and fuel retailers.
“Threats to the Renewable Fuel Standard are constant and real, and sometimes those threats come disguised as reform,” Heitkamp said in a statement. “The RFS has worked well for North Dakota farmers, and I’m fighting to defend it. As we’re doing today in this letter, I’ll keep pushing in the U.S. Senate for the robust RFS we need to support a thriving biofuels industry and stand up for biofuels workers. Biofuels create good-paying jobs in North Dakota and help support our state’s farmers, who rely on this important market-particularly when commodity prices are challenging.”
In North Dakota, about 50 percent of corn is turned into ethanol, according to the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, reinforcing how important it is that we maintain a robust biofuels market through the RFS.
The senators outlined the detrimental effects of changing the point of obligation from refiners tomarketers or retailers. Shifting the point of obligation would give refiners little incentive to produce necessary fuel blends, making it difficult for downstream entities to comply, the senators wrote.
The Advanced Biofuels Business Council says it applauds the efforts of the senators to rally against changes in the RFS.
“The RFS has worked effectively for more than 11 years to foster market access for homegrown biofuels, and efforts to rewrite the point of obligation are categorically opposed by a broad coalition of biofuel producers, retailers, consumers, and other market participants," said Brooke Coleman, executive director of ABBC . "Restructuring the program would halt any progress under the RFS, creating regulatory chaos for retailers and dragging down economic growth in rural America.”
Heitkamp has been a vocal advocate for biodiesel and ethanol – industries that support over 400,000 American jobs, including many in North Dakota. Heitkamp has fought for the EPA to provide certainty to farmers and biofuels workers, and has continually pressed the agency to issue a strong RFS rule.
Last year, EPA released final 2017 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for ethanol and advanced biofuels , and 2018 RVOs for biodiesel under the RFS. As Heitkamp pushed for, the corn ethanol blend levels met the statutory requirements for the first time in years. The EPA is required by law to set fuel blending levels annually so biodiesel and ethanol producers can plan for the future, but the agency failed to do so for years, creating uncertainty for farmers as well as advanced biofuels research and development.
After the EPA released its proposed RVOs in May 2016, Heitkamp called on the Administration to set more ambitious targets , as the law requires. She followed up on this in a call last month with Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan. Heitkamp also helped lead 40 senators in urging the Administration to increase biodiesel RVOs to encourage continued industry growth and diversity in the nation’s energy supply.
Heitkamp led the charge in the Senate to successfully push the EPA to set timely RVOs in 2015 for the first time in years. When the RVOs released in May 2015 were lower than levels needed to comply with law and promote the ethanol and biofuels industries, Heitkamp led a bipartisan group of 36 senators in calling on the EPA to increase the RVOs , and joined a bipartisan group of more than 40 senators to put pressure on the EPA for strong corn ethanol blend levels in June 2016 .