Column: RFS drives clean energy economy
Q: Are you satisfied the incoming administration will stand strong for the Renewable Fuel Standard?
A: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is the law of the land. It passed with strong bipartisan support more than a decade ago and was extendedand greatly expanded with enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Congress sets targets for the Environmental Protection Agency to follow when implementing the renewable fuel volume requirements that by law must be made available to consumers at the pump. Throughout the Obama administration, I rallied a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to address foot-dragging and willy-nilly non-compliance at the EPA, as well as to combat an orchestrated effort by oil and food conglomerates to tar and feather the RFS as a scapegoat for high food and fuel prices.
As a tireless champion for rural america, I work across the aisle and stand shoulder to shoulder with renewable energy advocates and job creators to help make sure the federal government faithfully executes the RFS and upholds the rule of law. In January, I took the oath of office and was sworn in to represent Iowa for a seventh term in the United States Senate. It is a privilege and responsibility I take very seriously. Make no mistake. That means I will continue my crusade to accelerate America’s commitment to clean, green homegrown energy that creates jobs, boosts energy security, improves air quality and revitalizes local economies across rural america. That’s why I spearheaded a meeting in January with President-elect Trump’s nomineeto lead the EPA with senators from biofuels-producing states prior to his nomination hearings. We wanted to set the record straight that the EPA is required to implement the RFS, not undermine it.
I also emphasized the contributions that the renewable fuels sector has made to the Iowa economy and its workforce by supporting 43,000 jobs in my home state and adding tremendous value to the farm economy. Studies show that Iowa’s renewable fuels industry accounts for more than $4.6 billion of Iowa’s Gross Domestic Product and generates $2.3 billion in income for Iowa households. I’m glad the nominee, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, listened and responded positively to our concerns. He also indicated the RFS would be followed under his leadership. This is a very good sign. When it comes to protecting clean energy, a public policy I’ve worked to secure and strengthen throughout my public service, I will trust but verify the Trump administration’s commitment to the RFS and other renewable energy sources across-the-board. From conventional renewable fuels to next generation cellulosic biofuels, biodiesel, biomass and wind energy, I will continue working to make sure renewable energy and Iowa’s contributions to U.S. energy security will keep leading the way for America’s clean energy economy in the 21st century.
Q: Why is the RFS so important?
A: Despite regulatory roadblocks and misguided decision-making that stalled timely implementation during the Obama administration, the RFS has made steady inroads to supply high-quality, high-octane renewable fuels to meet consumer demand at the pump. Again, the RFS sets annual targets that requires U.S. transportation fuels to contain a minimum volumetric threshold of renewable fuel. This requirement guarantees a clean blend of renewables in the U.S. fuel stream.
Driven by consumer demand for clean energy and a long-term, strategic goal to release the U.S. economy and national security from the stranglehold of foreign sources of energy, the RFS helps drive America’s clean energy economy. And I’m not about to let the rug be pulled out from one of my home state’s most important sectors of our ag-based economy. In fact, policymakers need to expand fuel choices and do more, not less, to make more homegrown, cleaner-burning renewable fuels accessible and available to every motorist who pulls up to the pump. Indeed, more Americans would fill up with E15 and E85 if these fuels were available to a greater pool of consumers.
Finally, let’s not forget the oil industry has enjoyed a century and more of various subsidies, incentives and support from long-held U.S. public policy. So when it comes to standing strong for one of the crown jewels of Iowa’s economy, I will work tirelessly on behalf of our renewable energy innovators, job creators, retailers, workers, farmers and families who live and work in Rural America. Throughout the 115th Congress, I will continue to conduct robust oversight of the EPA and its implementation of the RFS as Congress intended. What’s more, I will work to advance clean energy policies, incentives and infrastructure that helpclean our air and build better, safer, stronger, more prosperous communities and livelihoods.