First of Two Days of Hearings on RFS Begins Today

July 23, 2013 03:31 AM
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Potential legislation ahead | Biofuel groups push back in media campaign

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

Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the panel's ranking member, have released a series of white papers on the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) (link for background), setting the stage for possible legislation. Today a subcommittee of the panel will begin two days of hearings on the topic – it will be webcast. Link to prepared testimonies.

Another look at RFS ongoing. Separately, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last week pledged to look into the RFS, saying he has concerns about whether the mandate’s blending targets can be met.

Biofuel groups push back. Meanwhile, Fuels America, a coalition of biofuel organizations, launched a campaign Monday that includes print, television and online ads as well as ads on the D.C. Metro system. The advertisements revolve around the slogan “there is a choice,” underscoring charges by the biofuel industry that oil firms want to dismantle the RFS to keep the market reserved for conventional petroleum.

As for the RFS outlook, repeal looks extremely unlikely. The Obama administration also has voiced support for the mandate. Heather Zichal, President Obama’s top climate and energy adviser, supported the RFS in remarks last week. But some specific changes are possible. Biofuel backer Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who chairs the Energy and Commerce Energy and Power subcommittee, has said changes could be in the offing. The EPA has “more than enough flexibility,” said Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen. “We don’t see any need for legislation.” Some EPA flexibility, notably regarding cellulosic mandates and the 2014 corn-ethanol volume requirements could come via pending EPA announcements.

Comments: As for potential legislation ahead, Rep. Upton is expected to direct his staff to start drafting reform legislation over the August recess to be ready for markup in the fall. Whether such a bill could get a vote in the House, let alone in the full committee, is an open question.

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






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