In response to news coverage claiming U.S. Vice President Joe Biden played an instrumental role in the Obama Administration's proposal to gut America's Renewable Fuel Standard, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association on May 15 joined dozens of Iowa agriculture and renewable fuels leaders in submitting a letter to Biden requesting a meeting and urging him to revisit the issue.
Reminding Vice President Biden that he "campaigned in Iowa in 2007 and 2008 as a strong champion of the bipartisan, common- sense Renewable Fuel Standard," authors of the letter urged the vice president, "Please do not be fooled by the crocodile tears coming from the oil industry, who claim to be concerned about rising gasoline prices. Their argument is preposterous on its face."
Letter is signed by 23 Iowa farm and biofuel leaders
The letter is on the IRFA website and it has the names of 23 farm organization and biofuel industry leaders. Also, another 45 farmers, members of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, signed in support of sending the letter to Biden.
In part, the letter says: "This has already become a full-blown campaign issue in Iowa in 2014, and it will be a major issue for every candidate who visits Iowa in 2016. This is a crucial juncture for America's renewable fuel industry, and we cannot allow the oil industry to dominate the debate or bully our political leaders into backtracking to greater foreign oil dependence."
Can't allow oil industry to dominate RFS debate
The report by Reuters detailed an exchange between Vice President Biden and Philadelphia Congressman Robert Brady, who contacted Biden on behalf of the Carlyle Group, an alternative asset management firm which had previously purchased two oil refineries in Brady's district that were struggling due to lower profit margins. Biden reportedly told Brady he could fix the issue.
"If accurate, this report would confirm our worst suspicions: that Vice President Biden and the Administration have done an about-face on their support for cleaner fuels, consumer choice and cutting oil dependence," says Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw. "Iowans and all Americans deserve to know where the Vice President stands on the RFS. Does he really want to walk away from the only federal policy allowing market access for renewable fuels in the face of a century of policy preferences for petroleum? Abandoning the RFS would result in less competition, less consumer fuel choice and higher fuel prices, while strengthening the oil industry's near monopoly over the transportation fuel sector."
Final rule for 2014 RFS is to be released in June
If true, the move to advocate for oil companies to the detriment of renewable fuels would represent a sharp break from Vice President Biden's track record of supporting the RFS and decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil. The alleged exchange would also be a departure from the Administration's commitment to innovative American renewables and pursuit of energy independence, more American jobs, and a brighter climate future.
In November, 2013, the U.S. EPA released a proposed rule that would reduce the renewable volume obligations, or RVOs, under the RFS. The final rule for 2014 is set to be released in June. Oil companies have been fighting the renewable fuels industry harder than ever in recent months as Big Oil continues to try to weaken the RFS or to completely do away with the RFS. The oil industry doesn't want to lose any more of its motor fuel market share to competition from cheaper, cleaner homegrown renewable fuels.
DuPont CEO asks Congress, White House to keep biofuel mandate
The top executive with seed and chemical maker DuPont said on May 13 that Congress and the Obama administration must preserve the RFS -- a law requiring ethanol to be blended into the nation's gasoline supply. The RFS also requires a certain minimum amount of biodiesel to be blended with petroleum diesel fuel each year.
Ellen Kullman, CEO of DuPont, said in remarks Tuesday at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Philadelphia that the RFS reduces America's dependence on fossil fuels, creates jobs in rural America and produces environmental benefits.
The Renewable Fuel Standard is a 2007 law that mandates a growing amount of ethanol to be blended into the country's gasoline supply each year through 2022. DuPont's agriculture operations, which include Pioneer seed company in Johnston, Iowa, produce corn and soybean seed and herbicides, among other products.
RFS works, and U.S. needs to ensure its stability
"Legislative and regulatory uncertainty has a direct impact on the growth of this industry," said Kullman. "If EPA issues an RFS rule with increasing biofuels volumes, supporting a stable regulatory environment, our industry can thrive. The Renewable Fuel Standard works, and Congress and the administration need to ensure its stability."
EPA proposed last November to cut the RFS mandate to 15.21 billion gallons for renewable fuels in 2014, down from 18.15 billion gallons initially required in the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard passed by Congress. The U.S. EPA is expected to set the 2014 mandate in June.
Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production
Iowa is the leading state in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 3.8 billion gallons annually, with three cellulosic ethanol facilities under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.
The IRFA was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.
For more information, visit IRFA website.