U.S. Senator Heitkamp calls out EPA for prioritizing biodiesel imports | TSLN.com

U.S. Senator Heitkamp calls out EPA for prioritizing biodiesel imports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for opening the door to prioritizing the import of biodiesel from abroad over producing biodiesel from American farmers and producers – including many in North Dakota.

The EPA is planning to allow Argentina to ship as much as one billion gallons of biodiesel into the United States without first fulfilling its legal duty to provide certainty to American farmers and producers by setting clear production levels. Questioning the EPA’s priorities, Heitkamp slammed the agency for neglecting its legal obligation to provide certainty to biofuels and agriculture and the workers they employ by setting biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Lacking proper federal guidance, biodiesel producers across the country have been forced to slow production, negatively impacting farmers whose crops supply the industry, hurting jobs, and harming rural communities.

Last year, nearly 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers scaled back production and almost 6 in 10 idled production altogether. Additionally, two-thirds of producers said they have already reduced or anticipate reducing their workforce as a result of the downturn. Heitkamp has consistently fought for North Dakota farmers and producers by pressing the EPA to institute standards that promote certainty for the renewable fuels industry and the farmers who depend upon it.

“North Dakotans deserve better than to wait in line behind foreign competitors shipping goods into the U.S.,” said Heitkamp. “The EPA has neglected its legal obligation to set clear, practical production levels and provide certainty to our agricultural and renewable fuels workers – and our farmers and producers have suffered. It’s time the government showed our farmers – who aren’t just propping up local economies, but also promoting North American energy independence – some real respect. Last year, I brought EPA Administrator McCarthy to talk with North Dakotans face-to-face about how her agency’s newly proposed standards would cut down their businesses, and this fall her agency delayed these harmful rules. It’s time our federal agencies worked hand-in-hand with our producers to boost our economy, support energy that is made in America, and renew our commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy.”

Click here to read Heitkamp’s letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Heitkamp has long fought for policies that promote domestic biofuel production, as well as practices that protect a path forward for North Dakota farmers and workers in the renewable fuels industry. She has been pushing back on the EPA’s proposed RFS rule since it was released. In May 2014, Heitkamp, joined by other Senators and a farmer from Mantador, called for the Administration and Congress to support policies that stand up for biodiesel jobs and production, and reinforced the potential detrimental impacts for farmers and producers because of the EPA’s proposed rule. In February 2014, Heitkamp brought EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to North Dakota to hear firsthand from farmers and producers about how her agency’s proposed RFS rules reducing the required amount of U.S.-produced biofuels would have a direct and detrimental impact on their work. In November, the agency heeded their call, delaying the implementation of the new standards. Heitkamp has continued to press the EPA to announce these long-delayed standards.

The EPA’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard rule would establish a biodiesel standard of 1.28 billion gallons this year, forcing many farmers and producers to shut their doors. But in 2013, biodiesel producers – using products grown on farms in North Dakota and throughout the country, like canola and soybeans – generated a record of nearly 1.8 billion gallons, with plants in almost every state in the U.S. supporting about 62,200 jobs. And biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared to petroleum diesel.

–Senator Heitkamp

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