CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley believes there still is time to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard that could do “severe harm” to the biofuels industry.
After speaking with President Donald Trump, Grassley and fellow Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst along with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, announced they will meet Oct. 17 with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to discuss the future of the standard.
Renewable fuels advocates are concerned over the EPA’s announcement it might lower required levels of advanced biofuels for 2018 — and that exports of traditional ethanol could count toward meeting that.
Although Trump pledged during the 2016 election campaign he would support renewable fuels, Pruitt has been critical of the rule.
Maintaining or increasing the standard is important “because we’ve kind of reached the breaking point on getting ethanol out (and) mixed as E10,” Grassley said Wednesday. Ethanol advocates want to develop the market for E15 — a blend of gasoline and 15 percent ethanol.
To do that, Grassley said it’s important “not to screw around” with the standard in a way that could discourage investment in getting E15 distributed to retailers.
Grassley also wants a change to the renewable volume obligations, which the EPA uses to implement the fuel standard, so the higher ethanol blend could be sold year-round in all parts the country.
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Although Grassley did not say Trump offered any assurance the EPA won’t lower the required levels for advanced biofuels, his expectation is that the agency will follow the law.
“That means these cutbacks by EPA can’t go through,” he said.
The EPA has not finalized the proposed changes and is seeking input from stakeholders.
“I think public comments are going to make some difference,” Grassley said.
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