A group of U.S. Democratic lawmakers have asked President Joe Biden not to cut the amount of biofuels that oil refiners must blend into their fuel, according to a letter from the lawmakers dated Monday. The move follows a report last week that Biden’s administration was considering big cuts to the U.S. biofuel blending requirements. Lawmakers argue that this threatens Biden’s pledge to protect the U.S. farm economy.
No official announcement has been made but news of the plan spurred a strong reaction among farming and biofuel advocates. They benefit from the requirements that have helped create a multi-billion gallon market for their products.
The lawmakers, which include Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota and Representative Cheri Bustos from Illinois said in the letter that they have strong reservations about the administration’s potential moves to slash billions of gallons of biofuel volumes out of the requirements for 2020 to 2022.
The letter read that this action would directly undermine their commitment to address climate change and restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
During Biden’s campaign for the presidency, he pledged his commitment to the RFS, which says refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s fuel mix, or buy tradable credits from those that do. He has also committed to aggressive targets to address climate change in his first year as president.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the effect of ethanol on carbon dioxide emissions depends on how the fuel is made and whether impacts on land use are considered. Ethanol is the most widely used biofuel.
With the 2021 requirements already late by 10 months, blending requirements for 2020 and 2021 would be administered retroactively.
Albeit, the farm lobby supports the mandates, refiners say they are too costly. Moreover, they threaten to put refineries and their workers out of business.
Earlier this month, Republican and Democratic lawmakers from Pennsylvania sent separate letters to Biden, urging his administration to reform the RFS to help independent U.S. refiners.
Meanwhile, in just five weeks, the United States will participate in a crucial global climate summit. The country seeks to reestablish its credibility and leadership on the issue, at the same time keeping pressure on China, to commit to bold change. China, the world’s second biggest economy is also the world’s biggest polluter.
Congress has to pass legislation that supports the administration’s climate proposals before then, or else, that could all be at risk.
The most notable platform for U.S. effort on tackling climate change is the United Nations Climate Change Conference on November 1-11 in Glasgow, Scotland. That effort can be fostered and boosted by signing climate provisions into law.