A top biofuels proponent on Capitol Hill spoke with the leader of the Biden administration’s governance of the industry Monday and says he received a commitment to grow the industry.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Tuesday that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan committed to him that the administration has expansion of the sector in mind despite industry concerns about last week’s biofuel mandate volume targets.

“He wants to see continued growth of biofuels and advanced biofuels including beyond 2023,” Grassley said of a commitment Regan offered during their conversation. “You’re giving us this positive view about the next few years, I said ‘Can I take your statement and use it as a benchmark that you’re going to live up to, and I want to measure you by it?’ And he said yes, I could. So that’s the best I’ve got to go by.”

Grassley said he was frustrated by EPA’s decision to retroactively reduce the 2020 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard, a decision the administration said it made based on a drop in biofuel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grassley and other biofuels supporters, however, say the reduction was unnecessary due to a correcting mechanism within the RFS statute.

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Last week, EPA rolled out Renewable Volume Obligations for 2020-2022 in a multi-year proposal. The announcement also included proposed denial of 65 outstanding waiver requests from the mandate. The agency has announced a hearing on the proposal in January, and a recent regulatory agenda from the Biden administration projects finalization of the proposal in February – if met, that timeline would be about three months after the statutory deadline to conclude the RVO process.

On Tuesday, Grassley and fellow Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst introduced legislation that would ban the reduction of previously finalized RVOs, a move the two senators said in a release "would prevent the EPA from retroactively reducing 2020 or future finalized RVOs."

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