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Former senator, RFS author says Renewable Fuel Standard should be upheld

As the biofuels industry waits for the EPA to release Renewable Volume Obligations, a former senator and one of the authors of the Renewable Fuel Standard says he’s concerned volumes will be reduced.

Byron Dorgan of North Dakota says…”the Renewable Fuel Standards has been successful, and we’ve grown a very significant industry in biofuels and renewable energy. The Trump administration injured the industry with small refinery exemptions, and I had hoped the Biden administration would be better (about upholding the RFS) but this original recommendation that we hear is coming from the EPA is going to be very difficult for the renewable fuels industry.”

EPA recently sent proposed blending targets to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

Dorgan tells Brownfield there are also rumors that the agency wants to retroactively reduce 2020 blending obligations.

“That’s just a big mistake,” he says. “EPA shouldn’t be doing that at all, and they ought to be growing that mandate. Here’s what I think has happened: they’ve gotten a lot of push back from oil refiners and are taking a position to be somewhat helpful to oil refiners. If all these rumors are true and this is what the EPA does, they will have hurt the biofuels industry.”

He says the RFS was crafted with the goal of diversifying fuels and “to be able to produce and make these fuels from other sources whether soybeans or corn or restaurant grease. Supporting biofuels is supporting agriculture, family farmers, and diversity in our fuel sources.”  

Dorgan says the delay in releasing RVOs creates uncertainty and any move to undermine the RFS ultimately hurt U.S. farmers.  

“Farmers would expect that the substantial demand that comes from the biofuels and renewable fuels would continue and demand for the mandates in the RFS will continue,” he says. “But, if the administration decides to support oil refineries that don’t want to do this and hurt the biofuels industry that’s going to hurt farmers that produce those soybeans and produce other crops that are useful in renewable fuels,” he says. “

The RFS has helped reduce the nation’s carbon emissions over the past decade. Biodiesel, for example, reduce carbon emissions by about 74 percent. With the growth in advanced biofuel use, the nation has saved 144 million tons of carbon emissions over the past decade.

Dorgan served as a Democratic senator and congressman from North Dakota for 30 years. He served 12 years in the U.S. House and 18 years in the Senate. He is now a co-chair of Arent Fox’s government relations practices and a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Audio: Byron Dorgan

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