WASHINGTON (June 22, 2016) – The divisive issue of implementing the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) was center stage at a hearing today of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. In official testimony submitted for the record, National Farmers Union (NFU) asserted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made implementation more complicated than it should be and advocated for the agency to consider the several benefits of the RFS when implementing their final rule on renewable volume obligations for 2017.
“It is concerning that a hearing of this nature is even necessary. Again, the EPA has proposed RFS volume obligation levels well below the statute levels mandated by Congress, and I question why they are creating more unnecessary work to implement a law with proven environmental gains,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
The RFS has tremendous potential to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change by offering a fuel choice that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the RFS will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 138 million metric tons by 2022, the equivalent to taking 27 million cars off the road, if RFS statutory volume obligations are followed.
Enhanced by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the RFS requires the EPA to evaluate the available supply of biofuels, and if sufficient supply exists, EPA must set the annual volume obligation targets at those levels, Johnson explained. While issuing a proposed and final rule on an annual schedule is no small task for a federal agency, it is “a much smaller workload than when the agency considers issuing a waiver for which it does not have the legal authority.”
The statutory language authorizing the RFS limits the EPA’s authority to invoke a general waiver to instances where the requirements in the statute would cause severe economic harm or where there is an inadequate domestic supply of biofuels. EPA claims that there is an inadequate supply of biofuels, justifying a general waiver, but Johnson underscored that this is not the case.
“EPA’s actions on the RFS in the last several years have only contributed to policy uncertainty in the transportation fuels sector, and their proposal completely undermines the broader climate change goals set forth by the Administration. I encourage the EPA to consider the environmental benefits of the RFS over the position of Big Oil when implementing their final rule,” Johnson concluded.
Johnson’s testimony can be read in full here.