WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2015 - A new coalition has been formed to support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which is facing EPA-proposed cutbacks. Jim Talent, a former Republican senator from Missouri, said Americans for Energy Security and Innovation is comprised of ethanol producers and investors. AESI, he said, “will focus its efforts on building support for a stronger RFS to reduce our dependence on foreign oil from unfriendly nations and stimulate domestic innovation and economic development in the biofuels sector."
The resources AESI can bring to the debate are needed given the considerably deeper pockets of the oil industry and others looking to weaken or kill the RFS, said Talent, who is heading up the group.
AESI will contribute "to the ongoing efforts to ensure that the RFS remains America's most successful energy policy," Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said. He called Talent “an enthusiastic and outspoken supporter of the U.S. ethanol industry.”
“We look forward to hearing the ideas this new group will put forth to ensure that the American public has access to clean, secure, affordable home-grown sources of energy. Indeed, the RFS is law today in no small part because of Senator Talent's leadership on the Energy Committee during his tenure representing the people of Missouri. He knows far better than most the rural economic, energy security and economic promise of the RFS."
Tom Buis, the CEO of Growth Energy, said in a statement, "We are pleased that Americans for Energy Security and Innovation have joined the important fight to ensure that the RFS is protected and that America has a strong, robust, and resilient renewable fuels industry."
Talent said he was one of the “prime movers” behind passage of the RFS during the George W. Bush administration. "I believe that biofuels are the most feasible replacement for oil as automobile fuel, and that we need a strong RFS so that private investors can develop the biofuels industry with adequate assurance that their potential market won't be destroyed by manipulations from the foreign oil cartel."
The RFS has been a "successful policy over the past decade," noting that 10 percent of the nation's fuel supply now comes from cost-competitive biofuels, which he said had created more than 850,000 jobs, Talent adds.
However, AESI’s position is that the EPA took a “step backwards” in May when it proposed the annual blending targets at lower levels than were intended when the RFS was enacted into law.
"These proposed standards jeopardize the already frozen $13.7 billion in existing investments in advanced biofuels, while threatening to ship future investments and jobs overseas," Talent said. The administration's justification for the lower biofuel blending levels uses a criteria that is not included in the EPA's clearly statutory waiver authority, he maintains.
"The RFS has been the only consistent and effective energy policy that Washington has produced," said Talent. "Yet, the Obama administration plans to ax the only policy we have on the books that actually works to wean us off our dependence on fuels controlled by foreign oil cartels, while creating jobs at home."
Talent says AESI "will work to create an environment to prevent regulations and restrictions to the renewable fuel industry by increasing support and mobilizing elected officials to support our efforts."