Republican senators again ask Biden for biofuels meeting

Shutterstock White House in Washington DC on bright warm day
Members remind President biofuels can stem rise in fuel prices and provide emissions reductions.

Amid the ongoing energy crisis and skyrocketing inflation, several Republican senators are again calling for a meeting with President Joe Biden and representatives of his cabinet to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard and benefits of biofuels for the President’s agenda. In July, the senators made a similar effort to discuss this important issue with the administration, with no action taken.

In a letter to the president, the senators state: “We write to reiterate our July request to meet with you, members of your cabinet, and our Democratic colleagues to discuss the tremendous opportunity that biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel may contribute to your administration’s energy, environmental and transportation agenda. Now, as rising energy prices stoke consumer fears of more resolute, long-term inflation, our request takes on new urgency.”

Joining Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in signing the letter were Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo, Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan.

The letter adds, “Like you, we want all Americans to have access to affordable and reliable sources of energy, including transportation and winter heating fuel. This requires an all-the-above energy strategy that equally leverages responsible resource development and innovation. American biofuels represent both.”

They continue: “Mr. President, biofuels are a readily available energy solution that deserve full consideration—not only for helping to stem the recent increase in fuel prices, which has subsequently accelerated inflation—but to serve as a foundational source of transportation emission reductions as part of your energy and environmental agenda.”

Higher blends of biofuels like E15 provide consumers with a lower-cost, greener option at the fuel pump. As previously stated, ethanol has 46% lower lifecycle emissions than conventional gasoline, with increasingly efficient agriculture and advancements in fuel technology striving to achieve a 70% reduction by 2030 and a net-zero fuel in the coming decades.

Additionally, higher blends of ethanol will expand consumer choice and lessen the volume of conventional fuel needed for each vehicle, easing the ongoing supply constraint while also generating more— and thus reduce the price of—RINs, the RFS compliance credits, the senators write.

After reports indicated the Biden administration was weighing bailouts for Big Oil and undermining the RFS, the senators spearheaded efforts to keep President Biden accountable for the promises he made on the campaign trail to support the biofuel industry and the family farmers who rely on it.

Most pressing is the need for the administration to set robust renewable volume obligations, which will help restore the integrity of the RFS in accordance with Congressional intent, and to not undercut the blending targets with subsequent small refinery exemptions, the letter adds. “Similarly, the administration must not backtrack on previous blending targets, which by statute are already responsive to fluctuations in fuel consumption,” they write.

Additionally, the administration should take immediate action to promote biofuels in domestic and foreign markets, beginning with scoring and comparing all energy sources fairly with updated modeling, such as Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation, or the GREET, Model, and approving long-stalled registrations for advanced, cleaner fuels, like those derived from corn kernel fiber.

Lastly, the administration should seek to reestablish the year-round sale of E15 and support infrastructure investments to help fuel retailers provide this cleaner, more affordable fuel option for American drivers. E15, which is commonly marketed as Unleaded 88, can save consumers an average of 5 to 10 cents per gallon.

“Taking swift action will not only help alleviate the present energy situation, but failure to do so will leave meaningful carbon emission reductions on the table,” they add.

American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings thanked biofuel Senate champions for renewing their request to meet with President Biden and discuss the tremendous opportunity that biofuels like ethanol present to contribute to the Administration’s energy, environmental and transportation agenda. "Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will be more attainable if we start making progress right now with low carbon ethanol, and we join these Senators in calling on the President to give biofuels his full consideration,” he says.

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