U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) today reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to 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,” said Thune. “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.”
“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,” said Shaheen. “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.”
“Advanced and cellulosic biofuels are proven to provide low-cost and low-emission alternatives to petroleum-based fuel,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “It is time EPA addresses the current regulatory backlog that is stifling fuel technology progress that allows our country to harness the clean, renewable energy available from agricultural residue, corn fiber, and waste. The Biden administration has been clear in setting aggressive clean energy goals for our country, which is why Senators Thune and Shaheen’s legislation arrives at the perfect time. Further developing advanced biofuels would help provide the clean fuel necessary to reduce emissions and decarbonize our transportation sector.”
“For years, EPA has prevented new and innovative low carbon fuels from entering the marketplace by refusing to approve registration requests and new pathway petitions under the RFS,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “RFA applauds Senators Thune and Shaheen for their efforts to finally remove the logjam that has been keeping hundreds of millions of gallons of cellulosic biofuels—including ethanol produced from corn kernel cellulose—from reaching the market.”
"We greatly appreciate the support of Sen. Thune and Sen. Shaheen in getting the EPA to process RFS applications and pathway petitions,” said Carrie Annand, executive director of the Biomass Power Association. “For more than a decade, the biomass power industry has been waiting to participate in the RFS. Our members deserve credit for supplying carbon beneficial power for electric transportation, and the consistent support of these Senators will be instrumental in making this happen."
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.