Q: What’s at stake with proposed regulations that would reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2018 and 2019?
A: Congress enacted the RFS and other policies to boost U.S. energy security and energy independence, strategic measures designed to drive innovation and growth of renewable fuels. Accelerating production and use of homegrown renewables helps the environment, strengthens the economy, fosters job creation, grows consumer choice at the pump, creates new markets for farmers, revitalizes investment in Rural America and displaces foreign fuels. Regulatory delays or watering down this bipartisan law run afoul of congressional intent. What’s worse, it causes uncertainty for farmers, job creators, lenders and investors who make critical decisions based on volume requirements established by Congress. President Trump has made crystal clear his steadfast support for renewable fuels. Today’s marketplace includes conventional and advanced biofuels.The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to revise biomass-based diesel volumes for 2018 will cloud the horizon for next generation fuels, likely causing the market for clean-burning fuels to veer off course. The last thing America needs is a misguided detour off the course of pursuing energy independence and responsible stewardship of Earth’s resources. With the president’s full-throated support for renewables on record time and again, the EPA needs to do its job and heed the president’s support for renewable fuels. The RFS leverages America’s frontier of next generation biofuels and primes the pump for innovation and investment. As a long-time advocate for renewable energy, I’m working to make sure the EPAabides by the intent of Congress when it first authorized the RFS under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded it under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
Q: What are you doing to straighten this out and how can Iowans make their voices heard?
A: There’s a lot riding on the final rule for which the EPA has signaled an intent to lower the biomass-based biodiesel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes for the next two years. Investment in infrastructure, new technology and production capacity hang in the balance. And make no mistake, reversing course on the RFS is bad news for the grain belt during harvest season and next year’s planting season; it invites big-time uncertainty for the entire supply chain, from farmers to seed dealers, grain brokers, biofuel producers and fuel retailers. I’ve scheduled a meeting in my office with the EPA administrator and other lawmakers to make our case and set the record straight on this drastic rule-making reversal. Rolling back minimum volume levels for renewable fuels would roll back America’s commitment to clean energy and a commitment to America’s farmers who already are under financial pressure with a fourth-year decline in commodity prices. This month I completed my 37th consecutive year meeting with Iowans in all 99 counties. Driving across the state, I saw farmers hard at work in the fields, harvesting crops that will fuel and feed the world. One of my stops this month was in Newton, home to one of Iowa’s 13 biodiesel refineries that bring critical economic development, wage growth and jobs to the surrounding communities. Iowa is the leading biodiesel-producing state in the nation, with the capacity to contribute 397 million gallons to the nation’s fuel supply. Studies show the industry supports3,800 jobs in Iowa, adding $480 million to the state’s economy and boosting cash receipts for farmers. I will make these points loud and clear during my meeting with the head of the EPA and seek assurances that he is on the same page with the president and his commitment to the nation’s farmers and Rural America.