Iowa Leaders Ask For Hearing On EPA's Proposed Changes To RFS

Iowa Leaders Ask For Hearing On EPA's Proposed Changes To RFS

Bipartisan effort is asking Obama Administration to hold a hearing in Iowa on EPA's proposed reduction in Renewable Fuel Standard.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on December 12 joined Iowa's two U.S. Senators Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin, and Iowa Congressmen Tom Latham, Steve King, Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, in sending a letter to President Barack Obama expressing strong opposition to the EPA's proposal that would negatively lower levels in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

IOWA OFFICIALS UNITED: Iowa's top elected political leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, have joined together in expressing strong opposition to the Obama Administration's proposed reduction in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Iowa leaders are also seeking a federal hearing in Iowa to allow Washington D.C. officials to hear directly from Iowans on the proposed change.

The Iowa leaders also sent the same letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The Iowa elected leaders also urged the federal government to host a hearing in Iowa to hear directly from Iowans on the EPA's proposal, "which would have a harmful effect on the agriculture, agri-business and biofuels industries in Iowa," says Branstad.

The letter can be found here.

In the bipartisan letter sent to administration officials in Washington D.C., the Iowa leaders noted:

"As elected officials from a leading agricultural and biofuels state, we write to express our strong opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal to reduce renewable fuel volume obligations and weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and we request further opportunities for citizens from rural America to inform your decisions. Biofuels have diversified America's energy portfolio, strengthened our national security by reducing reliance on foreign oil, reduced transportation fuel emissions, given consumers lower cost options, and energized rural America by increasing family farm incomes and creating high-skilled, rewarding careers.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Iowa's entire congressional delegation has joined this effort, seeking an Iowa hearing on proposed reductions to Renewable Fuel Standard

Senator Grassley had this to say about joining the Iowa governor, lieutenant governor, Iowa secretary of agriculture and the entire state congressional delegation in expressing strong opposition to the Obama Administration's proposed reduction in the Renewable Fuel Standard and seeking a federal hearing in Iowa to allow federal officials to hear directly from Iowans on the proposed change:

"Too often, federal agencies make major policy changes without considering the people and the economies affected," Grassley says. "The Environmental Protection Agency regularly falls in that category. Now, supporters of clean, homegrown, green energy and forward-thinking energy policy are united in letting the Obama Administration know that its proposal is short-sighted and irresponsible, and that the Administration should hear from Midwesterners before making such a sweeping policy change."

The bipartisan letter to President Obama, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was signed by Grassley, Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sen. Tom Harkin, Congressmen Tom Latham, Steve King, Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

More on Grassley's views on the proposed RFS reduction is available here.

Washington lawmakers propose to eliminate corn from biofuels mandate

In other news regarding politics and renewable fuels, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress on Thursday introduced legislation that would eliminate corn from the country's ethanol mandate requirement.

The bill, introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would greatly diminish the prominence of the Renewable Fuel Standard by removing the component that requires fuel to be made from corn. Smaller mandates for advanced biofuels such as cellulosic would remain in place. The RFS, put in place in 2005 and strengthened two years later, requires refiners to blend 16.55 billion gallons of biofuels in 2013, most of it from corn.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

The 10 senators, all of them from states that are not major corn producers, says the corn component of the RFS has made food more expensive for consumers, pushed up the cost of animal feed for livestock farmers and harmed the environment. "Eliminating this mandate will let market forces, rather than political and parochial forces, determine how to diversify fuel supplies in an ever-changing marketplace," Coburn said.

Ethanol industry supporters call this latest bill which attacks the Renewable Fuel Standard "incredibly short sighted"

The legislation, the latest bill that would scale back or end the RFS, faces an uphill battle in Congress. Lawmakers have a busy workload, and there is strong opposition from representatives in the Midwest and ethanol producers to any changes. The head of Growth Energy, which represents the ethanol industry, called the legislation "incredibly shortsighted."

"This legislation is based on false, misleading information. To blame ethanol for an increase in the price of food may make for good rhetoric, but it is completely devoid of any facts to back it up," says Tom Buis, chief executive of Growth Energy. "If such legislation were to move forward it would embrace the status quo of our dependence on foreign oil, concede we no longer are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and seek to pursue a policy that would result in massive upheaval and job loss in today's booming rural economy," he says.

The EPA, which oversees the RFS mandate, has proposed setting the amount of renewable fuels required to be blended into the fuel supply next year below what Congress originally intended. Iowa, the country's largest ethanol producing state, and other supporters of fuel ethanol are working hard to convince the EPA to change its mind. A decision from the agency is expected sometime this coming spring, says Buis.

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