Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Feb 09 2015

Heitkamp Leads Bipartisan Call on EPA to Provide Certainty to Biodiesel Workers

Two Weeks Ago, Heitkamp Admonished the EPA for Prioritizing Foreign Biodiesel Exports Over American Biodiesel Production

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today led a bipartisan group of 32 Senators in pressing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to live up to its legal obligation to provide certainty to the biodiesel industry and the thousands of workers it employs by setting long-delayed production levels.

Doubling down on her criticism of the agency for prioritizing Argentinian biodiesel imports over American biodiesel producers, Heitkamp expressed concern with recent layoffs and plant closures in the biodiesel industry, and underscored the need for the EPA to provide certainty for biodiesel workers by setting production levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014, and to move ahead on these levels for 2015 and 2016.

In 2014, nearly 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers scaled back production, and almost 6 in 10 idled production altogether. Heitkamp emphasized the need for the agency to respond immediately and to make renewable volume obligation (RVO) decisions in a timely manner going forward.

“Too many of our farmers and producers across America have been forced out of their jobs or seen their factory doors close because of a lack of federal certainty that they deserve – but have been denied,” said Heitkamp. “The EPA has a legal responsibility to provide biodiesel workers with clear standards every year, but has failed to deliver, hurting agriculture and fuels industries and workers. Two weeks ago I called on the agency to stop prioritizing the imports of foreign competitors over our workers here at home, and to recommit itself fully to supporting American energy by providing certainty to the American workers who contribute to our national goal of energy independence. Now, joined with a bipartisan group of Senators, we are pushing the agency to set timely standards to help us work to achieve that goal, and bring our country closer to an all-of-the-above energy strategy for generations to come.”

Click here to read Heitkamp’s letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Long an advocate for policies that support North Dakota farmers and workers in the renewable fuels industry and for a true all-of-the-above energy strategy, Heitkamp has continually fought for policies that promote domestic biofuel production. Last spring, Heitkamp, joined by other Senators and a farmer from Mantador, called for the Administration and Congress to support policies that stand up for biodiesel jobs and production, and reinforced the potential detrimental impacts for farmers and producers because of the EPA’s deeply flawed 2014 RVO proposed rule. In February 2014, Heitkamp brought EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to North Dakota to hear firsthand from farmers and producers about how the agency’s proposed RFS rules reducing the required amount of U.S.-produced biofuels would have a direct and detrimental impact on their work. In November, the agency heeded her call, delaying the implementation of the misguided new standards. Heitkamp has continued to press the EPA to announce these long-delayed standards at levels that continue to promote biofuels industry growth.

The EPA’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard rule would establish a biodiesel standard of 1.28 billion gallons this year, forcing many farmers and producers to shut their doors. But in 2013, biodiesel producers – using products grown on farms in North Dakota and throughout the country, like canola and soybeans – generated a record of nearly 1.8 billion gallons, with plants in almost every state in the U.S. supporting about 62,200 jobs. And biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared to petroleum diesel. 

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Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov