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New legislation would provide certainty to biofuel producers

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U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to prohibit the EPA from reducing the minimum applicable volume of biofuels into transportation fuel once the RVO levels are finalized for any given year. This would prevent the EPA from retroactively reducing 2020 or future finalized RVO levels.

The Defend the Blend Act is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Joni Ernst (R-IA). Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Angie Craig (D-MN), and Ron Kind (D-WI).

“Our farmers and rural communities are counting on us to uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will stop retroactive changes to Renewable Volume Obligations so the renewable fuels industry has the certainty and stability it needs to create jobs, drive investment, and cut carbon emissions from the existing vehicle fleet.”

Last week, EPA released its draft rule that would lower conventional ethanol volume to 12.5 billion gallons for 2020, retroactively waiving 2.96 billion gallons from what was set for 2020 almost two years ago. More information on RVOs can be found here.

“Time and time again, renewable fuels have shown to be key in cutting both greenhouse gas emissions and costs at the pump. Yet, past and present administrations have overlooked the value of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), creating uncertainty for Iowa farmers and producers. With EPA’s most recent proposed action of lowering RVO numbers from 2020’s final rule, who’s to say that won’t happen again? It is critical that we establish new safeguards that uphold the RFS and ensure all administrations remain committed to following the law,” said Grassley.

Biofuel groups react

“This bill comes at a critical time,” said Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO. “Just last week, EPA proposed an unprecedented retroactive reduction to the 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) that were finalized more than two years ago. The RFS was created to provide long-term market certainty for our nation’s ethanol producers and farmers. Going back in time to slash RFS volumes — long after they have been finalized — undermines the purpose and intent of program and destabilizes the marketplace.”

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy said,  “The Renewable Fuel Standard was put into place to blend more low-carbon biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply, and it includes a built-in mechanism that adjusts for changes in fuel demand. Retroactively reducing RVO levels is completely unwarranted and unnecessary, adds uncertainty to the marketplace, and exceeds EPA’s legal authority.” Skor expressed that lowering 2020 RVOs would “impact the entire fuel supply chain, including the farmers, producers, blenders, retailers, and responsible refiners who based business decisions on final requirements in place for some time.”

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