Ernst: 'We'll Hold [Pruitt's] Feet to the Fire' on Renewable Fuel Standard

October 09, 2017 11:51 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) Monday said she and a bipartisan group of senators are opposed to changes to renewable fuel policy pushed by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and will "hold his feet to the fire" over the changes.

Ernst, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are among 38 senators who sent a letter to Pruitt urging him to stick to the renewable fuel standard, which was passed by Congress in 2005 and added on to in 2007.


The standard requires a certain amount of petroleum fuel to be replaced by biofuels, commonly seen by blending ethanol into gasoline. By 2022, the program aims to have up to 36 billion gallons of fuel made from renewable sources, increasing the country's energy independence while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA is proposing reducing the targets due in part to biofuel costs being higher per gallon than petroleum, a move the senators called in their letter "a step backward." Part of the higher cost is due to the expiration of a 2016 tax credit on biofuels, the EPA said.

"The Congressional intent was to go out there and set these volumes and really encourage the renewables market, and if we see the EPA lowering the volumes knowing that we can produce those volumes, whether it's biodiesel or ethanol, is going against the original Congressional intent," Ernst said.


Ernst said she has a phone call scheduled with Pruitt, as well as a meeting set for Tuesday to discuss the proposed changes.


"We’re going to push back against the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt," she said. "We’re going to hit him as hard as we can on these issues. He told me during the confirmation process that he would stand by the congressional intent and follow the law, and we’re going to hold his feet to the fire."

In January, Grassley met with Pruitt about the standards, saying he "got a very positive response" from the then-nominee to lead the EPA.

Farmers have said the changes could also affect their bottom line.

The EPA is currently seeking public comment on the changes. The comment period closes October 19.

To read the EPA proposal, click here (opens in PDF).  To submit public comment, click here.


Logan Reigstad

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