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EPA to Reexamine Fuel Blending Rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will again look at a proposal to reduce consumption mandates for corn-based ethanol and other biofuels in 2014.

However, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy made no promises regarding any changes when recently meeting with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and 15 other senators from farm states, according to a report by Reuters.

"I think the most we got from Administrator McCarthy is that they're going to take another look at it. They're going to review it," Harkin said during a call with Iowa journalists.

In November, the EPA recommended a reduction in how much corn-based ethanol and other biofuels should be blended with petroleum-based fuels in 2014 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

AAA lauded the move, stating the new ethanol and requirements would "help drivers by preventing a surge in gas prices for the premature expansion of E15 gasoline sales."

Meanwhile, the National Biodiesel Board expressed concern with the new rules. The trade group warned that the new EPA proposal will lead to a sharp drop in production, leading to layoffs and plant closures.

This led 54 members of Congress representing 24 states to call on the Obama Administration last week to boost its proposal for biodiesel production under the RFS.

"It's clear that biodiesel has been a great RFS success story," the members of Congress wrote in a letter. "This type of reduction could have very damaging repercussions. It could result in dozens of biodiesel facilities shutting down and permanently and ceasing production. "We strongly urge you to continue your support for this developing and fragile industry with a reasonable increase in the RFS volume requirement for 2014 and responsible growth in the future," the letter concluded.

As currently constituted, the RFS in 2014 requires 18.15 billion gallons of biofuel to be blended with petroleum-based fuels, including 14.4 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol

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