Renewable fuel standard critics to unveil reform bill

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A bipartisan group of House members plans to introduce legislation tomorrow to reform the renewable fuel standard.

The lawmakers, led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), have not released any details about the legislation but said the “RFS Reform Act” would “help ease concerns created by the ethanol mandate and protect consumers, energy producers, livestock producers, food manufacturers, retailers, and the U.S. economy.”

Co-sponsors include Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

The renewable fuel standard calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuel to be blended into transportation fuel by 2022. It sets yearly requirements for both conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels made from inputs such as agricultural residues, switchgrass and municipal solid waste.

Critics last year tied the standard to the skyrocketing corn prices that occurred as much of the nation was mired in an extreme drought. Foes say that it is currently behind a spike in ethanol credit prices that could contribute to high gas prices and that the targets set by U.S. EPA for advanced biofuel production consistently overestimate the size of the market.

Last Congress, Goodlatte introduced legislation both to repeal the standard and to temporarily halt it should corn stocks fall below a certain level. He also led a group of 150 House members last year who requested that EPA waive the corn ethanol portion due to the drought.

Supporters of the standard argue that it promotes a continued expansion of the domestic biofuels industry, which they say is essential for the country’s energy and economic future.