By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter
OMAHA (DTN) -- The release of the final 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard is "imminent" and likely will include higher volumes for both ethanol and biodiesel, Sen. Al Franken said during a press conference Thursday.
Franken, D-Minn., said he was basing his comments on a meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and eight other Democratic senators Thursday and on a previous meeting with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
In recent months, McCarthy stated publicly that agriculture and ethanol groups would be pleased at EPA's deliberate approach to deciding on the final RFS volumes. She indicated the agency was taking its time following a significant outpouring of public comments in opposition to the EPA proposal to cut corn-based ethanol volumes by some 3 billion gallons and biodiesel volumes far below expected production.
"We believe we're going to get higher numbers than in the preliminary rule, and we hope they are significantly higher," Franken told reporters.
On its website, EPA says the RFS release is scheduled for July. It was reported previously that the rule could come in June.
Podesta met in Franken's office along with eight other senators including Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
"We are all making the case that the preliminary RFS rule was just unacceptable," Franken said. "These are clean domestic fuels. These are fuels that have a low-carbon footprint. We made our case and we believe the levels they set send the wrong message to the market. There is no reason to keep it (biodiesel) at 1.28 billion gallons.
"I have talked to the president one-on-one about this. I've talked to every White House official who will listen to me. This is thousands of jobs in all our states we're talking about. It is absolutely important for our economy and for our independence."
National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said in a statement Thursday that the results of the meeting are encouraging, but the industry still has concerns.
"The biodiesel industry remains concerned that the administration still appears to be considering a proposal that would backtrack from last year's proven production and that threatens biodiesel plants around the country," she said. "The fact is that biodiesel is the most successful advanced biofuel under the RFS, yet it could see its production cut significantly.
"This meeting, which was originally requested by a diverse group of 14 Democratic senators from across the country, makes clear that there are serious concerns about the impact that the proposal would have on jobs and economic growth nationwide, in states from Rhode Island to Minnesota to Washington state. This is a critical decision, not just for the biodiesel industry but for the future development of clean, American-made renewable fuels that will help us reduce our dangerous dependence on petroleum."
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