Iowa officials urge EPA to increase biofuel standards

WASHINGTON  (Gray DC) -- There's a food fight in DC over how crops feed our fuel system, and Iowa lawmakers are at odds with an arm of the Trump administration.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared on Capitol Hill last week for a House committee hearing.

Pruitt's agency recently decided that it won't increase how much plant-based biodiesel to mix into transportation fuels.

Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) used last week's hearing as an opportunity to express the concern from Iowa officials.

Loebsack told Pruitt, "We have bi-partisan concerns in Iowa."

Loebsack says the biodiesel industry can produce more, and holding it back means lost jobs and money.

Loebsack said, "This is not a good situation for the state of Iowa."

Current requirements call for 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel to be blended into motor fuel in 2018.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says it doesn't make sense to raise it in 2019.

Pruitt said, "We've never breached the 2.1 billion in production in fact, we imported about 700 million gallons last year from Argentina. So that's the reason those were flat lined."

While Plant-fuel producers in states like Iowa call for more to be mixed, others are pressuring the administration to lower the federal minimum for all types of biofuels, or scrap it.

Nick Loris, a researcher with the conservative Heritage Foundation, says forcing renewable fuel into the mix means refineries would shoulder the extra cost if overall fuel demand drops.

Loris said, "It particularly hurts the refiners."

He also said the mandates cost consumers more at the pump, with estimates between 13 to 26 cents per gallon.

Last week, nine senators from oil-producing states met with President Trump and his administration, urging a renewable fuel overhaul.

A White House spokesman they'll work with refiners and plant growers to find an agreeable path forward - but didn't offer a timeline for when.

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