Boxer: No Need for RFS Legislation

December 11, 2013 11:38 PM

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Any legislation in the Senate to scale back RFS faces stiff hurdle without support of EPA chairwoman

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee said she sees no need for legislation related to the renewable fuel standard (RFS), after convening the first hearing on the standard since the Environmental Protection Agency proposed lowering its targets.

"I think the EPA has responded to some of the problems with the volumes," Boxer said. "I think the beauty of the legislation is we built in a lot of flexibility for EPA."

EPA proposed last month cutting for the first time the amount of corn ethanol the standard mandates that petroleum refiners and importers blend into their products. That proposal is expected to be completed in the spring of 2014, Chris Grundler, director of EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, testified during the Wednesday hearing.

Grundler said the agency's decision to propose reducing the amount of corn ethanol required in 2014 was a recognition that the so-called blend wall "has been reached."

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and EPW ranking member David Vitter (R-La.) noted legislation they have been working on to amend the RFS. While they did not detail the bill, which has not yet been formally introduced, Cardin stressed that it would drawdown the corn-based ethanol portion of the mandate while protecting the quotas for advanced biofuels.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have also been working together to draft legislation that would eliminate the corn-ethanol portion of the RFS completely.

"Even the EPA recognizes that status quo cannot continue," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who has authored legislation that would repeal the standard in its entirety, said during the hearing. "But make no mistake, the EPA cannot fix the renewable fuel standard. Congress must weigh in and repeal this broken program once and for all."

But without support from the chairwoman of the EPW, any legislation related to the RFS faces a steep hurdle. "I have the gavel for now, I'm not going to let us reverse course...I'm just not," Boxer said.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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