Senators Demand Answers About Private Meeting with EPA Administrator and Texas Governor
A coalition of U.S. Senators has pressed U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson for a meeting soon, prior to a decision on the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Recent press reports indicated that Texas Governor Rick Perry met behind closed doors with Administrator Johnson on July 9 to discuss his request for a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The Senators said they "expect a fair and open decision-making process that includes a good-faith consideration of all interested parties."
"The move toward renewable fuels is an important and necessary step to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of fuel and to strengthen our energy security. Nebraska companies are already investing in the production of cellulosic ethanol and other renewable fuels. A reversal of the goals set by the RFS would hurt them as well as the rest of Americans who will benefit from clean, domestic-produced sources of fuel. I want Administrator Johnson to explain his meeting with Governor Perry and its effect on EPA decisions regarding the RFS," said Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE).
"Administrator Johnson owes an explanation to the farmers who are fueling America as to why he felt it necessary to meet privately with Governor Perry and make an agreement on the timeline of his decision. Any decisions regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard should be made considering all points of view. The bottom line is that biofuels are increasing our national security, helping our balance of trade, and reducing our dependence on Middle East oil and the whims of Big Oil. I want to make sure that Administrator Johnson is open-minded following his meeting with Governor Perry," said Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
"The Renewable Fuels Standard included in the 2007 Energy Bill was an historic step toward reducing our nation's dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy. Repealing or reducing the use of clean American-made energy would be a major setback for our growing biofuels industry, delay the transition to cellulosic ethanol, and would result in higher gas prices for American consumers. I look forward to discussing this issue with Administrator Johnson in the near future," said Senator John Thune (R-SD).
"Thousands of farmers in Missouri and across the nation have invested large sums, pursuant to the Congressional ethanol mandate, to develop the infrastructure to produce this energy. To repeal the mandate now would be a major break of faith with all of these small investors, cause our imports to rise, and increase the amount of pollution coming from other petroleum sources," said Senator Kit Bond (R-MO).
"Americans are sick and tired of the oil men in the White House making deals on energy policy behind closed doors. These decisions must be made in the light of day allowing accountability and Congressional oversight," said Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
"Waiving the RFS requirement this year would mean higher gasoline prices for consumers just at the moment when Americans can least afford to pay more at the pump. Congress took a strong, bipartisan step last year to boost the use of biofuels in our nation's fuel supply and to wean ourselves off of foreign energy sources. I am deeply troubled that some want to turn back that progress, punishing the driving public and frustrating our long-term energy security," said Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD).
The text of the letter follows:
July 18, 2008
We have great concerns with news indicating that you held a closed-door meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry on July 9, 2008 to discuss Texas' request to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and that you supposedly reached an agreement to postpone making a decision. As you are aware, a group of Senators wrote to you on May 6, 2008, to register our strong opposition to the Texas request for an RFS waiver. As such, we are very concerned about any agreements being made behind closed doors with only one concerned party to this matter.
Mr. Administrator, we expect a fair and open decision-making process on this matter that includes a good-faith consideration of the concerns of all interested parties. We cannot accept and will not tolerate decisions on the RFS that are made behind closed doors and in concert with only the Governor of Texas. Moreover, we stress that an agreement to postpone any decision on the waiver raises additional concerns about whether the Agency is abiding by its responsibility to adhere to the law passed by Congress and signed by President Bush.
Accordingly, we request an immediate meeting with you and your staff that is docketed, or otherwise officially noted. The purpose of this meeting will be to gather information about your meeting with Governor Perry, learn about any agreements between EPA and Governor Perry on the waiver request and for you to assure us that EPA is following the law and the proper decision-making process.
We appreciate your prompt attention to our request and concerns. Please have your staff contact Senator Ben Nelson's staff (202.224.6551) or Senator Grassley's staff (202.224.3744) as soon as possible in order to schedule the meeting so that it takes place no later than July 23rd.
Senator Ben Nelson (NE)
Senator Chuck Grassley (IA)
Senator John Thune (SD)
Senator Kit Bond (MO)
Senator Claire McCaskill (MO)
Senator Tim Johnson (SD)
Senator Kent Conrad (ND)
Senator Norm Coleman (MN)