DES MOINES – Legislative leaders say they will consider a request from former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to encourage Congress to preserve the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Vilsack, now President Obama’s USDA secretary, warned lawmakers of a stepped up attack on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard that mandates the use of a minimum volume of renewable biofuels annually. The EPA currently sets increasing annual production targets. This year it’s 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel, increasing by 2015 to 15 billion gallons with an eventual goal of 36 billion gallons by 2022.
Vilsack made his comments during a series of discussions with Democratic and Republican lawmakers at the Statehouse Feb. 19.
Legislation has been introduced in Congress to change the way EPA sets targets. Supporters – including Vilsack – are concerned that will effectively kill the development of next-generation biofuels.
“Look, this is an important industry to Iowa, it’s an important industry to agriculture,” Vilsack told reporters. “It’s an import industry to the consumers of this country because you absolutely pay less at the pump because we have a healthy renew fuel industry.”
The Renewable Fuel Standard is the “linchpin” of a healthy biofuels industry and further investment in advanced biofuels to expand beyond corn-based ethanol, “which would be a good thing,” he said.
Legislators, he added, “have a vested interest in making their feelings known.”