A bipartisan group of 31 U.S. Senators on Thursday sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy opposing proposed volume reductions to the 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard.
According to the Senators, EPA's proposed rule will discourage investment, hurt job growth and have a negative impact on rural communities across the country. The Senators share concerns with a group of U.S. Representatives who sent the EPA a similar letter last week.
The comments stem from EPA's November proposal to reduce the total biofuels target in the RFS to 15.2 billion gallons – 1.34 billion gallons below the 2013 target of 16.55 billion gallons.
The proposed decrease is a departure from the original plan of the policy – to gradually ramp up ethanol and biofuels blending. Instead, the new proposal is nearly 3 billion gallons below the intended 2014 target of 18.15 billion gallons.
"The EPA is proposing a major step that reverses the momentum on biofuels," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, one of the letter's signatories. "The progress made toward energy diversity and independence will slip away if the EPA succeeds."
Fellow Iowa Senator and signatory Tom Harkin agreed. "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," he noted in a statement. "The proposed rule, requiring less biofuel in 2014 than in 2013, goes against this intent and is a significant step backward," he said.
In effort to talk the EPA down from its proposed cuts, Grassley called on a key supporter of renewables – President Obama – for help.
"The sentiment from almost one-third of the U.S. Senate is the proposal needs revision. We want the EPA to reconsider," Grassley said. "The President as a supporter of biofuels should weigh in as needed."