Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Oct 16 2017

Heitkamp Leads Bipartisan Effort to Protect Biofuel Production & Support Rural Jobs

Senators: EPA Proposal to Cut Renewable Fuel Standard Would Cost Jobs in Rural America

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today led a bipartisan letter with U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and a group of 29 other senators urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase its proposed 2019 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for biodiesel to encourage growth in the industry and support good jobs in North Dakota, and abandon its effort to reduce biofuel production in 2018.  

The EPA has proposed holding the biomass-based diesel volume stagnant for 2019 and reducing the advanced biofuel volume for 2018. These proposed volumes leave potential growth in the industry on the table and could cause near-term job losses in rural America. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has pledged to support the Renewable Fuel Standard, and Heitkamp reinforced the need to protect it in a meeting with Pruitt prior to his confirmation.  

“The President and Administrator Pruitt have repeatedly promised to protect the renewable fuel standard, and we’re calling on them to keep their word,” said Heitkamp. “North Dakota’s biofuels industry and the farmers who support it rely on standards set by the EPA to boost their production and create good jobs. But instead of increasing our supply of biofuels, the EPA has proposed to cut blend levels next year. That could cause our rural economies to take a hit and be another blow to farmers across our state. We need policies that support our home-grown biofuel industry, as I’ve been pushing for, and I’ll keep up the pressure to ensure our producers and farmers have the certainty they need to create jobs and continue to supply our nation with a home-grown source of energy.”

Click here to read the letter. 

According to a study conducted last year by LMC International and released by the National Biodiesel Board, the 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel used by Americans in 2015 supported 47,400 jobs and $1.9 billion in wages, and had an $8.4 billion economic impact.

In North Dakota, about 50 percent of corn is turned into ethanol, according to the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, reinforcing how important it is that we maintain a robust biofuels market through the Renewable Fuel Standard.

A member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Heitkamp has been a vocal advocate for biodiesel and ethanol – industries that support over 400,000 American jobs, including many in North Dakota. Heitkamp has fought for the EPA to provide certainty to farmers and biofuels workers, and has continually pressed the agency to issue a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule.

Last year, EPA released final 2017 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for ethanol and advanced biofuels, and 2018 RVOs for biodiesel under the RFS. As Heitkamp had long pushed for, the corn ethanol blend levels met the statutory requirements for the first time in years. The EPA is required by law to set fuel blending levels annually so biodiesel and ethanol producers can plan for the future, but the agency failed to do so for years, creating uncertainty for farmers as well as advanced biofuels research and development.

After the EPA released its proposed RVOs in May 2016, Heitkamp called on the Administration to set more ambitious targets, as the law requires. She followed up on this in a call with Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan. Heitkamp also helped lead 40 senators in urging the Administration to increase biodiesel RVOs to encourage continued industry growth and diversity in the nation’s energy supply.

Heitkamp led the charge in the Senate to successfully push the EPA to set timely RVOs in 2015 for the first time in years. When the RVOs released in May 2015 were lower than levels needed to comply with law and promote the ethanol and biofuels industries, Heitkamp led a bipartisan group of 36 senators in calling on the EPA to increase the RVOs, and joined a bipartisan group of more than 40 senators to put pressure on the EPA for strong corn ethanol blend levels in June 2016.  


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