WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2015 – Nearly one-third of the Senate is urging the Obama administration to hurry up and finalize the annual usage mandates for renewable fuels, saying the delay has slowed production of biodiesel.

A letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday signed by 32 senators, the majority of them Democrats, says that recent layoffs and plant closures in the biodiesel industry underscores the need for her agency to release the Renewable Fuel Standard levels for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The delay in finalizing the mandates “has only compounded the effects from the November 2013 RFS proposed rule which did not adequately reflect biodiesel production levels,” the senators wrote.

“These actions continue to create tremendous uncertainty and hardship for the U.S. biodiesel industry and its thousands of employees. Plants have reduced production and some have been forced to shut down, resulting in layoffs and lost economic productivity.”

The letter says Congress required the EPA to set the biodiesel levels at least 14 months before the start of the applicable year.

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The senators who signed the letter included a number of senior Democrats, including Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and the ranking members of the Finance Committee (Ron Wyden of Oregon), Agriculture (Debbie Stabenow of Michigan) and Energy and Natural Resources (Maria Cantwell).

Eight Republicans signed the letter.

The letter did not mention that Congress has repeatedly allowed the $1-a-gallon tax subsidy for biodiesel to repeatedly expire. It was revived in December for 2014 but lapsed again on Jan. 1.