Ex-Sen. Talent launches advocacy group to boost RFS

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) today will launch a new group to boost the nation’s biofuel policy.

The group, Americans for Energy Security and Innovation, will seek to mobilize elected officials in support of the renewable fuel standard, which Congress first passed in 2005 and significantly expanded in 2007 to require the use of ethanol and advanced biofuels by refiners.

Talent, who was a key supporter of the original renewable fuel standard, said in a statement that he believed biofuels were the “most feasible replacement” for oil as a fuel for vehicles.

“We need a strong RFS,” he said, “so that private investors can develop the biofuels industry with adequate assurance that their potential market won’t be destroyed by manipulations from the foreign oil cartel.”

The new group will join several existing biofuels organizations in pushing for robust annual renewable fuel targets under the RFS program. The Obama administration is considering a proposal that would boost ethanol and advanced biofuel use in 2014, 2015 and 2016 but falls short of the levels that Congress wrote into the 2007 statute.

Talent questioned U.S. EPA’s proposed use of its authority to lower the levels based on fueling infrastructure limitations known as the “blend wall.”

“The RFS has been the only consistent and effective energy policy that Washington has produced,” he said. “Yet, the Obama administration plans to ax the only policy we have on the books that actually works to wean us off our dependence on fuels controlled by foreign oil cartels, while creating jobs at home.”

Talent was elected to the Senate in a 2002 special election and served until defeated by now-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in 2006. He served in the House from 1993 to 2001 and spent four years as chairman of the Small Business Committee.

Talent is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he’s directed the group’s National Security 2020 project. He was a senior adviser on foreign policy and defense on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination.