New House Republican bill targets EPA ‘phantom fuels’ mandate

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced House legislation today targeting U.S. EPA regulation of what he calls “phantom fuels.”

The “Phantom Fuel Reform Act” would require EPA to tie yearly cellulosic biofuel targets to actual production instead of estimated gallons. Oil refiners say they have been penalized for not blending gallons of cellulosic biofuel that doesn’t exist in order to hit EPA’s targets.

“Even for the EPA, this is an outrageous regulation,” Flake said in a statement. “The Phantom Fuel regulation has done nothing but net the federal government millions of dollars while needlessly driving up U.S. energy costs.”

This year, EPA has required that oil refiners blend 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel into the fuel supply. While several commercial cellulosic biofuel plants are under construction, the country has yet to blend a single gallon of commercial cellulosic biofuel, according to EPA’s online data system of biofuel production.

The American Petroleum Institute cheered the proposed legislation.

“The fact that EPA continues to mandate these biofuels that do not exist is regulatory absurdity and bad public policy,” API Director of Downstream and Industry Operations Bob Greco said in a statement.

The ethanol industry has maintained that the biofuels mandate has been critical in spurring investment in cellulosic technology and helping countries across the “valley of death” between pilot-scale projects and commercialization.

Ethanol trade group Growth Energy “continues to stand by the renewable fuel standard and the volume goals established therein,” the group’s CEO, Tom Buis, said today. “The RFS is the only significant energy policy enacted in the last 40 years, and the ethanol industry is committed to making sure that our nation can achieve energy independence.”