For over a century, we have seen fossil fuels pollute our environment, damage our climate, and spew toxic chemicals into the air we breathe. Unfortunately, our most vulnerable communities are hit the hardest from this pollution. Poor air quality affects urban areas and communities of color disproportionately.

To combat the problem, Congress created America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2005. The RFS is Congress’s answer to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and expanding the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil. The RFS is the most successful law on the books that cuts greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. In fact, studies have shown that higher renewable fuel blends reduce asthma- and cancer-causing emissions by 6.6 percent compared to regular gasoline.

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To help our environment, strengthen public health, stimulate our economy, and boost our confidence in renewable fuels, we must invest in advanced and cellulosic biofuels—the cleanest motor fuel in the world. Advanced biofuels have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 590 million metric tons, an amount equivalent to taking more than 124 million cars off the road.

The renewable fuel industry is responsible for creating more than 852,000 good, American jobs and generating $184.5 billion in annual economic output. In my home state of New Jersey, the RFS is responsible for $1.6 billion of economic output each year, including $88.3 million in the 10th Congressional District. Lowering the biofuels volume requirement would devastate our economy and threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s recent proposal on the RFS would weaken the biofuels volume requirements and overturn the progress from the past 10 years of its existence. The EPA’s current proposal is inconsistent with Congress’s intent when it passed the law with strong, bipartisan support. The weakened proposal also runs counter to the Obama administration’s goals on fighting climate change and curbing carbon pollution.

That is why I led a group of colleagues in urging the EPA against reducing the biofuels volume requirement. In addition to the health benefits of reducing greenhouse gases, Congress intended for the RFS to provide an incentive to drive investments in biofuel production and technology. Reducing the biofuels volume requirement could have a chilling effect on innovation, and thus directly affect job creation.

Our communities cannot afford to suffer any longer from the toxic fossil fuel emissions that are hurting public health and leading to a whole host of different health issues, including childhood asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. 

At the end of November 2015, the administration will release its final rule on the RFS biofuels volume requirement. It can and must choose to strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard and protect our economy, environment, and public health.

Payne has represented New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District since 2012. He sits on the Homeland Security and the Small Business committees.