As we approach the holiday season, many Nebraskans are planning their travels. Increased fuel demand is a reminder of how important it is for our country to utilize every available energy source, as more choices for consumers typically lead to lower costs.
To broaden our country’s energy portfolio, I have long supported the development and increased availability of biofuels. Early in this Congress, I reintroduced my bill to provide retailers the option of selling E15 fuel year-round. Outdated regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently inhibit the sale of E15 during the summer months, which impedes the free market and limits consumers’ options at the pump.
There is no reason E15 should not receive the same regulatory relief extended to E10 decades ago. Retailers should have the prerogative to determine whether to offer this affordable alternative.
Reductions in Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) numbers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have caused concern for the future of biofuels. Over the last few years, the EPA has proposed targets lower than the standards set by Congress. This discourages investment and growth in biofuel production, despite record harvests showing supply exists.
Members of the House and Senate recently wrote to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt asking him to strengthen volume standards in the final rule issued by the agency. I joined more than 20 members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus in sending the House letter, and both Nebraska Senators were part of the Senate delegation expressing these concerns.
On Oct. 19, Administrator Pruitt responded to Congress with assurances the EPA will not pursue reductions in biofuel volumes and will reexamine the issue. This is good news for Nebraska agriculture, consumer choice, domestic energy production, and our economy.
As Administrator Pruitt stated in his response, “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.” What a refreshing departure from President Obama’s EPA, which consistently disregarded congressional intent and concerns. President Trump has made clear his support for the RFS, and he is keeping his word on biofuels to Congress and rural America.
Representative Kristi Noem of South Dakota also introduced legislation earlier this year to extend the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit for fuel produced in the United States. The bill, of which I am a cosponsor, is a needed approach to incentivize domestic biodiesel production. While we work on comprehensive tax reform in the Ways and Means Committee, this step can help to keep our country moving toward energy independence.
Biofuels represent a win-win-win for our economy. They give consumers more options, provide greater stability in the agriculture market, and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is good to see the Trump administration encouraging greater biofuel production, especially with Nebraska as a leader in this area, and I will continue to advocate for responsible development of a wide array of domestic energy sources.