Numbers aren’t there’ for ending ethanol mandate — Inhofe 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe yesterday said that it is unlikely his committee will take up new legislation to strip corn ethanol from the federal renewable fuel standard.

“The problem with that is the numbers aren’t there,” the Oklahoma Republican told reporters today in the Capitol.

He added: “I would do that in a heartbeat. … However, this is not something that is a partisan thing. This is a geographic thing. And I’m not optimistic that a lot of the new guys we have are people who are going to be on the opposite side of this issue from me.”

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) introduced the bill last week. It would eliminate federal requirements for refiners to use corn ethanol but leave other mandates for advanced biofuels intact. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is an original co-sponsor (Greenwire, Feb. 26).

The bill is among several already introduced this Congress that take aim at the renewable fuel standard. Supporters of RFS reform measures argue that the heightened demand for corn ethanol brought on by the RFS has led to negative impacts on the environment, driven up food costs and threatened car engines.

Inhofe, one of the Senate’s most vocal opponents of ethanol and the RFS, has planned for an aggressive year of oversight as head of the Environment and Public Works Committee. He’s criticized proposed U.S. EPA rules over carbon dioxide and waters of the United States, among other environmental regulations.

The RFS, however, is not an issue that “follows the regulation line,” he said, given its wide support among both Democrats and Republicans in ethanol-producing states.

The dynamics on the committee haven’t changed this year in the Senate compared with last year, he added, when Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) — a strong supporter of the RFS — led the panel.

“I don’t think it’s something that having meetings on is going to make a difference because nothing’s changed,” he said.