House Energy and Commerce members to mull bipartisan RFS reform over August break

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013

The leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee say that they are committed to finding a bipartisan consensus on the renewable fuel standard and that they would collaborate on potential reforms throughout the August recess.

In a joint statement yesterday, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said they would take into account all the concerns raised during their months-long review of the standard that wrapped up last week with a two-day hearing.

The 5-year-old renewable fuel standard compels refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year into the nation’s motor fuel supply by 2022. Of that amount, 21 billion gallons must come from advanced biofuels, or fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent compared to petroleum-based fuel.

“We are going to use the August work period to discuss bipartisan solutions that take into account the broad range of concerns we have heard,” Upton and Waxman said. “Any reforms to the RFS will reflect our efforts to protect the interests of consumers, the environment, farmers, food and energy producers, and all of the American people.”

“As we transition from reviewing the law to reforming it, our commitment to a collaborative, bipartisan process is stronger than ever,” the leaders added.

Upton and Waxman have for months collaborated on a series of white papers on the standard to which they solicited information from various stakeholders. They acknowledged, though, that finding a consensus would not be “an easy task,” given the strong and greatly differing views between the biofuels, oil and livestock industries over whether to reform the standard, repeal it or leave it alone.

Last week’s two-day hearing failed to find any common ground and was mostly an opportunity for stakeholders to air often-repeated talking points. It became apparent, however, that there is likely more support for reforming the standard rather than repealing it.

On the Republican side, Upton has tapped four members of the committee to lead the effort: Reps. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) (E&E Daily, July 30). Members of the committee are unlikely to actually draft legislation over the August break but will instead review the various white papers and outcomes from the hearings.