- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2014

A prominent Washington watchdog group is calling for an investigation into charges that improper lobbying influenced the government to reduce the standards for the use of renewable fuels in the nation’s gasoline.

 Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) is requesting that the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general investigate claims that the Carlyle Group and Delta Airlines improperly influenced the agency’s decision to decrease ethanol requirements for the first since the mandate was created.

The EPA, which has never previously reduced renewable fuel standards, seems to have done so now as a result of congressional and White House intervention,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said Thursday.

According to recent reports from Reuters, Carlyle, the Washington-based investment banking firm and Delta both obtained oil refineries near Philadelphia in 2012. Oil refineries face increasing operation costs due to the federally mandated renewable fuel standards which call for yearly increased increments of ethanol to be combined with fuel.

The ethanol requirement has pitted big oil and big corn companies against each other, with oil industry groups arguing that the standards are too severe and will cripple business, while ethanol producers say the mandate is necessary to prevent an energy crisis.

CREW stated that at the oil companies’ behest, Pennsylvania Reps. Robert Brady, a Democrat, and Patrick Meehan, a Republican, lobbied administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden.

I talked to the vice president and I told him what the issue was, and he said, ‘We’ve got to try to fix that,” Mr. Brady said in an interview with Reuters. “And we fixed it.”

But the federal watchdog argues that the EPA should not have been swayed by lobbying, and should focus solely on the public’s interest.

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. The EPA inspector general should immediately investigate, ” Ms. Sloan said.


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