WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) led a group of senators in urging the Administration to oppose any changes that would undermine the objectives of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, Klobuchar and Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) asked that he reject changes to the RFS that hinder the growth of rural economies. In Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, he testified that, “Any steps that the EPA Administrator takes needs to be done in such a way as to further the objectives of Congress in that statute, not undermine the objectives of Congress in that statute,” which suggests a commitment to a strong RFS program.
“The RFS is an effective driver of economic development. It has strengthened agriculture markets and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new energy economy, and driven economic growth in rural communities across the country,” the senators wrote. “A stable RFS reduces our nation’s reliance on foreign oil and provides the certainty needed to drive innovation and progress towards advanced biofuels.”
For years, Klobuchar has led a bipartisan push for the EPA to release a stronger RFS to support American jobs and decrease dependence on foreign oil. In 2016, the former Administration released a stronger final rule for 2017. The new standard required a record amount of biofuel to be mixed into our transportation fuel supply next year. Minnesota’s twenty ethanol plants and three biodiesel plants generate roughly $5 billion in combined economic output and have made our state the fourth-largest ethanol producing state in the country.
In October, Klobuchar and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led a bipartisan group of 38 senators in calling for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked toward finalizing its rule on biofuels volume requirements for 2018 under the RFS. In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the senators urged the continued implementation of the RFS as intended by Congress and the release of a strong final rule that would give consumers more choices at the pump, strengthen the economy, and make the country more secure. Last March, Klobuchar and Grassley led a bipartisan group of 23 senators in urging the Administration to reject changes to the RFS that would upend stability and predictability for small businesses, and rural communities.
As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a 2014 Farm Bill Conference Committee member, Klobuchar successfully pushed for key provisions in the current Farm Bill – including measures to support rural development projects, conservation programs, agricultural research, and the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program. Recently, her staff held public forums throughout the state to hear firsthand from Minnesotans about their priorities for the Farm Bill’s 2018 reauthorization. Klobuchar regularly does Rural Economy Tours across Minnesota, meeting with local leaders from the agriculture and business communities to discuss priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill and the economic impact of a stronger RFS.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Administrator Pruitt,
We write in strong support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and to urge you to oppose any changes that would undermine the objectives of the standard.
The RFS is an effective driver of economic development. It has strengthened agriculture markets and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new energy economy, and driven economic growth in rural communities across the country. A stable RFS reduces our nation’s reliance on foreign oil and provides the certainty needed to drive innovation and progress towards advanced biofuels.
President Trump has made his views on the RFS clear. In 2016 he said, “The RFS…is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence for the United States. I will do all that is in my power as President to achieve that goal.”
During your confirmation hearing, you testified that, “Any steps that the EPA Administrator takes need to be done in such a way to further the objectives of Congress in that statute, not undermine the objectives of Congress in that statute.”
These comments and the 2018 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) suggest a commitment to a strong RFS program and rural communities across this country. That is why recent comments calling for changes to the standard are troubling. For example, capping or waiving Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) requirements would fundamentally undermine the objectives of the standard and also contradict recently conducted analyses. The Environmental Protection Agency’s findings from the most recent 2018 final rule stated that the “EPA has invested significant resources evaluating the impact of high RIN prices on refiners. After reviewing the available data, EPA has concluded that… high RIN prices do not cause significant harm to refiners.”
We urge you to reject changes to the RFS that hinder the growth of rural economies. We look forward to working with you on the 2019 rule to ensure continued growth in the U.S. biofuel sector.