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U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is joining a bipartisan effort to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inaction on advanced biofuel registrations. Ernst is co-sponsoring a bill introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have languished before the EPA despite the fuels being successfully used in at least one state. 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.

“Iowa’s renewable fuel industry has continued to pioneer and offer even cleaner, more efficient choices for consumers,” said Senator Ernst, a longtime champion for the biofuel industry. “This bipartisan effort will override the EPA’s inaction on advanced biofuel registrations and allow our producers to continue their innovative work without unnecessary, burdensome approval processes holding them back and create added value and new opportunities for our farmers and biofuel producers.”

“Finally advancing proven fuels like ethanol derived from corn fiber technology will permit ethanol producers to produce a higher-value fuel with even lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, as well as enable them to utilize at scale the technology and facility investments they have already made,” said Senator Thune. “The RFS intends for fuel technology to progress, not for prolonged EPA inaction to stifle it. At a time when the farm economy continues to face headwinds and uncertainty, my bill would improve the bottom line of numerous biofuel operators without direct federal assistance, adding value to the corn crop and increasing margins until fuel demand is restored.”

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 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.