Durbin: EPA Renewable Fuel Standard "Seriously Missed The Mark"

Senator meets with Illinois Farm Bureau to discuss draft rule, calls on OMB to reconsider EPA proposal

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After meeting with members of the Illinois Farm Bureau, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today reiterated his serious concerns regarding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to reduce the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, Durbin urged the agency to thoroughly review the proposal, and work toward a final rule that promotes investments in the next generation biofuels and the infrastructure necessary to bring those fuels into the market.

Durbin has worked with members of Illinois’ agriculture community and biofuels industry to evaluate the potential impact of the proposed waiver. In addition to meeting with the Illinois Farm Bureau today, Durbin is also expected to meet with the Illinois Farmers Union and the Illinois Soybean Association later this week.


“The Administration’s proposed change to the Renewable Fuel Standard seriously missed the mark,” Durbin said. “As written, it would not only undermine our nation’s progress toward domestic energy independence, it would also threaten the thousands of jobs supported by our biofuels industry – including 5,400 in Illinois. I will continue to work with Illinois stakeholders like the Farm Bureau to find a better alternative that moves the biofuels industry forward, and not back.”

In January 2014, Durbin led a bipartisan group of Senators in writing to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging the agency to firmly support the future of biofuels and revise its proposed waiver of the RFS. The Senators shared their concerns regarding the proposed rule’s potential impact on our nation’s energy security, the environment, and economic growth, particularly in rural communities. That letter is available here.

In December 2013, Durbin joined a bipartisan group of Senators in a meeting on Capitol Hill with McCarthy to protest the agency’s RFS proposal. In November, Durbin also joined thirty-one members of the U.S. Senate in sending a letter to McCarthy, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and former Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell encouraging the agencies not to decrease the RFS. That letter can be accessed here. In late October, Durbin sent a similar letter to Burwell which can be accessed here.

The full text of today’s letter from Durbin is below.

September 9, 2014

Hon. Shaun Donovan, Director

Office of Management and Budget

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

1650 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20503

Dear Director Donovan:

I am writing to share serious concerns regarding EPA’s 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS.) Congress passed the RFS to increase the amount of renewable fuel utilized in our nation’s fuel supply, setting up a system that has worked for over 10 years. The Administration’s initial proposal was a significant step backward – undermining the goal of increasing biofuels production as a domestic alternative. As you review EPA’s final rule, I encourage you to ensure that it maintains strong support for and encourages ongoing growth in domestic biofuels.

The RFS promotes energy independence and domestic production of new fuel sources, strengthening national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The RFS has proven to be an overwhelming success, with annual production of domestic biofuels exceeding 13 billion gallons, displacing nearly 500 million barrels of imported foreign oil.

RFS has also enhanced domestic grain markets and expanded economic development opportunities in rural America. With 14 plants in Illinois, the ethanol industry alone supports more than 5,400 direct jobs and payroll exceeding $250 million annually. Illinois produced 1.65 billion gallons of ethanol in 2011. RFS has also provided enough certainty for investments in 5 biodiesel plants in Illinois.

EPA’s 2014 draft RVOs seriously missed the mark, potentially upsetting the progress made over the last 10 years and creating uncertainty in the biofuels community. I joined 30 of my Senate colleagues in calling on the EPA Administrator to fix the rule (attached). I remained concerned that the rule may still use flawed methodology and volume levels that undermine the long term goals of the RFS. To continue building on the success of RFS, the final rule should maintain volume levels at or above the 2013 RVOs and utilize a methodology that creates a clear path for future growth in the biofuels industry.


As you complete your review of the final rule, I request that OMB ensure the final 2014 RVOs promotes investments in the next generation of biofuels and the infrastructure necessary to deploy those fuels into the market. Without a strong final rule, domestic biofuel investment may be permanently harmed bringing severe economic consequences and preventing growth of the domestic renewable fuel sector.


Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.


Richard J. Durbin

United States Senator