Biofuels Policy News: January
Presidential primary voting began with RFS in the spotlight
After months of intense campaigning, Iowa residents gathered on February 1 to choose from an ideologically diverse and eclectic group of presidential candidates.
Iowa voters gathered to caucus and kick off the 2016 presidential voting. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton edged Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) by the slightest of margins – 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent. On the Republican side, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) defied the polls and won with 27 percent of the vote. Real estate developer and reality television star Donald Trump had been leading in the polls but finished second with 24 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) exceeded expectations and finished third with 23 percent.
As the first state in the nation to vote or caucus in the primaries, Iowa and its agriculture industry have long held a special place in the presidential election process. That has held true in this election, with discussion of the Renewable Fuel Standard heavily featured in recent media coverage.
America’s Renewable Future (ARF) – an Iowa-based RFS advocacy group – successfully pushed every presidential candidate to take a public position on the policy. Novozymes is a member of ARF and has supported the presidential primary effort. Ten of the 12 Republican candidates and all three Democratic candidates came out in favor of the renewable biofuels policy. In an op-ed last May, Clinton wrote that the RFS “can continue to be a powerful tool to spur the development of advanced biofuels and expand the overall contribution that renewable fuels make to our national fuel supply.”
In 2013 Cruz had co-sponsored a bill to repeal the RFS. In 2014, however, he changed his stance and called for a multi-year phase out with the policy ending in 2022. Ultimately, 83 percent of Iowa voters cast their ballots for pro-RFS candidates.
Industry takes first steps toward RFS lawsuit
Several biofuel industry groups — including BIO, Growth Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association — have begun the process of suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the final RFS rules that agency issued for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The final rule was issued last November and set blending levels below the numbers required in the law. The Petition for Review was filed on January 8.
Great Green Fleet sets sail
The United States Navy will deploy a carrier strike group this month powered by a mix of biofuels and fossil fuels. The “Great Green Fleet” is designed to showcase the Navy’s goal of cutting fossil fuel use by 2020.
Governors Biofuels Coalition names 2016 Chairman
The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition announced this month that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will serve as chairman for 2016 and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) will serve as vice chairman.
Senate debates energy bill, anti-RFS amendments brought forward
The Senate is currently debating a comprehensive energy bill and, as expected, the bill is a tempting vehicle for anti-renewable fuel amendments.
So far we have seen filed amendments to repeal the RFS, prohibit use of government funds for renewable fuel blender pumps, and repeal alternative energy tax credits such as the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit. The viability of any of these amendments to be considered for a vote and attached to the overarching energy bill is still unknown.
The energy bill is expected to be debated on the Senate floor for the next one to two weeks. Novozymes and our trade association and Fuels America colleagues are actively engaging in the process to avoid consideration of these anti-biofuels measures on this bill.