Focus on Biofuels Is Key to Renewable Energy Success | Commentary

Roll Call, May 12, 2014 | Go to article overview

Focus on Biofuels Is Key to Renewable Energy Success | Commentary


I've always known where President Barack Obama stood on the issue of renewable fuels. He has consistently voiced his strong support going back to his days in the Senate, and he has continued that support in the White House. In a speech at an advanced biofuel refinery in Missouri on April 28, 2010, he summed up his position like this:

"I've said before I don't accept second place for the United States of America. I want us to be first in wind power, first in solar power, and I want us to be first when it comes to biodiesel and the technologies that are being developed [here]."

The president's remarks that day showed the vision and competitive fire that I witnessed while working alongside him in the Senate. And as an original writer of the Renewable Fuel Standard, I always appreciated the president's unwavering support for it.

But today, I'm concerned about the administration's recent proposal that would put an end to the growth of this emerging American energy industry. The EPA proposal, if left unchanged, would signal a retreat on our bipartisan commitment to developing a strong renewable fuels industry to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and reduce harmful emissions.

This proposal simply doesn't fit with the president's goals. Take biodiesel as an example. It is a significant RFS success story - the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel to reach nationwide, commercial-scale production. The EPA says it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent, and the White House's recent report on climate change cited incentives for biodiesel as an example of federal mitigation. Biodiesel is produced at refineries in almost every state in the country and has steadily grown the past few years using an increasing variety of resources such as animal fats, soybean oil and recycled cooking oil.

Yet under the EPA's proposal, biodiesel production could be cut sharply from last year's record production of nearly 1. …

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