- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A top ethics watchdog group said Wednesday it is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to reveal the role the oil industry played in Obama administration deliberations on the mix of renewable fuels in the nation’s gas supplies.

Officials with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) also filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the EPA and called on the inspector general to investigate whether the Carlyle Group, an investment bank, and Delta Airlines improperly lobbied Congress and top administration officials to persuade the EPA to lower the mandated amount of renewable fuels to be blended into transportation fuel.

The D.C.-based watchdog group cited a Reuters news agency report about industry input into the 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS.

It took the EPA several months to release the documents it had already shared with Reuters, and the agency has yet to hand over other documents requested by CREW.

“Is the EPA slow-walking its release of these documents because it does not want the public to learn how political the RFS has become?” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan asked. “The RFS should be based on sound energy policy, not politics.”

The EPA has missed the deadline to set the required volumes of ethanol and biodiesel that must be blended into motor fuel, but media reports have speculated that for the first time since the creation of the RFS in 2002, the EPA plans to reduce the standard.

According to the Reuters report in May, both Carlyle and Delta lobbied Pennsylvania Reps. Robert Brady, Democrat, and Patrick Meehan, Republican, to persuade Vice President Joseph R. Biden and other administration officials to use their influence on the EPA’s 2014 RFS decision.

“It certainly seems as if the administration has backtracked on its commitment to renewable fuels. The question is why. Was there a back room deal orchestrated by big oil and high ranking officials in the Obama administration?” Ms. Sloan asked. “Even though it is nearly 2015, the renewable fuel standards for 2014 still haven’t been released. Is this to avoid potential political fallout in the mid-terms for siding with the oil industry over the biofuel industry?”

The Washington Times reached out to the EPA, the Carlyle Group and Delta for comment, but has not yet received a response. 

 

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