The National Biodiesel Board on Thursday said talks between the White House and a group of Senate Democrats appears to indicate that a Renewable Fuel Standard rollback is still on the horizon as the U.S. EPA continues to delay the release of final 2014 volumes under the mandate.
NBB said they are "encouraged" by the discussion on the RFS – which places minimum requirements on how much renewable fuel must be blended into the fuel supply – but "remains concerned that the Administration still appears to be considering a proposal that would backtrack from last year's proven production."
The EPA in November proposed renewable fuel volumes lower than those in 2013, much to the displeasure of biodiesel and biofuel groups that viewed the RFS as a way to improve access to biofuels and infrastructure needed to produce them.
Lawmakers requested the meeting with White House adviser John Podesta last month to discuss the status of the final RFS volumes.
If the EPA decides to move forward with lower RFS mandated volumes, NBB reiterated its position that biodiesel plants and jobs could be at risk.
NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said the Senators' meeting request shows that there are "serious concerns" about the impact that the proposal would have on industry growth nationwide.
"This is a critical decision, not just for the biodiesel industry but for the future development of clean, American-made renewable fuels that will help us reduce our dangerous dependence on petroleum," she said.
Sens. Al Franken, D-Mich., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., were among the legislators in attendance. The two previously addressed the proposed lower RFS volumes in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, asking for modifications to the proposal.
Among their concerns were fewer jobs as a result of lower production, greater reliance on foreign oil, stunted advancement of renewable fuels infrastructure and limited choices for consumers at the pump.
Proponents of a lower RFS say the rollback could bring the policy back in line with the amount of fuel that can realistically be absorbed by the E10 market. They argue that current policy would produce more fuel than can be used.