WASHINGTON May 22 A government ethics watchdog
on Thursday asked for an investigation into the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to cut federal
biofuel use targets for 2014.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
said EPA's Inspector General should look into whether The
Carlyle Group and Delta Air Lines improperly
influenced the agency's draft rule issued late last year.
The request followed a Reuters report this month about how
Carlyle and Delta, owners of two Philadephia-area oil
refineries, worked with policymakers to help convince the
administration to lower the biofuel mandate.
"Given that the agency's decision to lower renewable fuel
standards is an unprecedented break from past practices, the
public has a right to know whether this decision was based on
policy or politics," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said
in a statement.
The draft rule cut the amount of fuels such as corn-based
ethanol and soy biodiesel to be used in 2014 to a minimum of
15.21 billion gallons from the 18.15 billion (68.7 billion
liters) mandated by a 2007 law. It was the first proposed cut to
the overall mandate since the program was created.
EPA, which administers the program, said it proposed the
cuts because U.S. energy markets cannot absorb the required
levels of biofuel at the current rate of gasoline and diesel
Refiners have for years lobbied intensely against the
Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires increasing amounts of
biofuels to be blended each year through 2022.
Weak gasoline demand has placed the nation on a course with
the "blend wall," where the federal targets will require ethanol
to be blended into gasoline at levels higher than the 10 percent
mix that dominates U.S. fueling infrastructure.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Richard Chang)