It’s been a whirlwind week for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). From initial changes, to the President stepping in and ordering EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to back down, as of Friday, the fate of the RFS is a little clearer.
Late Thursday, legislators say they received a letter from EPA Administration Pruitt supporting the RFS, and voicing his committeemen to the mandate.
Pruitt wrote, “My responsibility as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is to faithfully administer the laws passed by the U.S. Congress. This Agency must and will respect those laws.”
“Over the last few weeks, I had serious concerns about the EPA following the spirit and the letter of the RFS, which I made clear to my committee colleagues, the EPA and the White House,” said Senator Jonie Ernst (R-IA). “Tonight, I’m pleased to see these commitments from EPA Administrator Pruitt to uphold the RFS as intended by Congress.”
Ernst says the Administrator committed to finalizing the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) rule on time, at either levels steady with or above those mandated by Congress. Ernst says the EPA is also committed to increasing access to E-15 blends of gasoline year-round.
“In addition, the Administrator has recognized the overwhelming opposition to moving the point of obligation, and is keeping it where it is to ensure stability in the marketplace.”
Ernst called it a “clear win” for Iowans.
“No doubt RFS supporters have hit their World Series version of a grand slam,” said Jim Wiesemeyer, Farm Journal Washington Correspondent.
Wiesemeyer says the firestorm started this week as the calendar draws closer to Nov. 30, the statutory deadline of when EPA should make final RFS decisions. Earlier in the week, Bloomberg reported the President ordered Pruitt to back away from proposed changes to RFS. The news came after a phone call between Trump and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
EPA’s proposed changes would have lowered the federally mandated levels of biofuel in the RFS. However, the Administration stepped in, telling the agency to abandon two proposed changes: a reduction in biodiesel requirements and a proposal to allow exported renewable fuel to count toward domestic quotas.
That sent Iowa legislators on a furious mission to put a stop to such changes.
However, according to Farm Journal Washington Correspondent Jim Wiesemeyer, the issue is riddled with possible lawsuits, including one already filed this week.
“President Donald Trump’s reported order to the EPA to sustain biofuel volumes in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) may violate the Administrative Procedure Act, opening the policy to lawsuits, according to Congressional Quarterly(CQ), citing legal experts and advocates who oppose the plan,” said Wiesemeyer. “The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in federal district court Thursday alleging EPA has failed to conduct required environmental-impact and air-quality analyses for the RFS.”