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Two bi-partisan bills to speed adoption of advanced biofuels re-introduced to Senate

US Senator John Thune (R-SD) has re-introduced two bills intended to speed the adoption of biofuels. The first, with co-sponsor Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) would approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have gone without approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) despite the fuels already being successfully used in at least one state.

Under the bill, EPA would also be required to render a decision within 90 days on any registration application that has been pending for at least 180 days, as well as take action within 180 days for completed pathways petitions pending for at least 180 days.

The Renewable Fuel Standard has been a driver of American energy innovation, but regulatory inaction has stifled the advancement of promising technologies like ethanol derived from corn kernel fiber. This bill will permit biofuel producers to capitalize on the research and facility investments they have made to bring this technology to scale, improve their operating margins, and further lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. This will strengthen the biofuel industry, which continues to provide an essential market for South Dakota farmers.

—Senator Thune

We must constantly look for innovative ways to fuel our transportation sector so the United States leads the next chapter of energy efficiency and renewable technology, especially as we confront the intensifying climate crisis. I’m proud to reintroduce this bill along with Senator Thune to tackle the backlog of advanced biofuel registrations, empowering producers to utilize the latest technology and research in fuel production. I have long worked to level the playing field for our biomass producers to participate in the Renewable Fuel Standard, and I’ll continue to fight for investments that strengthen our energy industry to build a more sustainable future.

—Senator Shaheen

In addition to approving certain biofuel registrations and requiring EPA action on pending registration applications and pathway petitions, the bill would provide $2 million for EPA to carry out the functions of the bill.

Pathways are the feedstock method through which certain renewable fuels may be created, while registrations are individual facility certifications for producers affirming that their renewable fuel meets the standard required by the pathway. For example, corn kernel fiber was approved as a pathway in 2014, but EPA has not advanced numerous registration applications despite applicants meeting stringent peer review requirements and being approved for sale in at least one state.

EPA has also been slow to act on numerous pathway petitions, which seek to advance innovative and clean fuels made from renewable feedstock. Under the Thune-Shaheen bill, EPA will have to render a final decision within a total of one year after a pathway petition is deemed completed. A list of pending petitions for renewable fuel pathways can be found here.

The second, with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is the reintroduced Adopt GREET Act, legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its greenhouse gas modeling for ethanol and biodiesel.

Specifically, the bill would require EPA to adopt the Argonne National Lab’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) Model for both fuels. EPA would then be required to update its modeling every five years or report to Congress to affirm its modeling is current or otherwise explain why no updates were made.

Biofuels continue to prove their environmental benefits and significance in our nation’s climate change efforts. Just last week, a study was released that found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than gasoline, up from a previous report of 39%. As the science on biofuels and innovative farming techniques continue to improve, updating the modeling at EPA is long overdue and necessary to fully reflect biofuels’ potential to decarbonize the transportation sector and provide Americans with immediate cleaner options at the pump. We thank Senators Thune and Klobuchar for introducing the Adopt GREET Act and for their tireless efforts on behalf of biofuels.

—Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy


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