Repealing RFS ‘nothing but short-sighted,’ says Zichal

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013

Repealing the federal renewable fuel standard would be “short-sighted” and limit the Obama administration’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the president’s top adviser on climate change said yesterday.

Speaking to a crowd of mostly biofuels companies in Washington, D.C., Heather Zichal said the administration views biofuels as playing a “very important role” in the climate change strategy recently announced by the administration. She called the renewable fuel standard the “backbone” to building up the domestic biofuels industry.

“This program is essential to meeting our goals in energy security, climate change and rural economic development,” Zichal said. “Calls to repeal the renewable fuel standard are nothing but short-sighted.”

The show of support from the administration comes as several members of the House and Senate are attempting to either completely repeal or partially reform the standard, which mandates that the country blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year into motor fuel by 2022. The standard has come under pressure from oil, food and livestock groups that have linked it to high food and fuel prices. Environmentalists have also questioned its greenhouse gas benefits.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) have filed legislation to repeal the measure.

Repeating an argument made often by supporters, Zichal said she believed U.S. EPA was capable of handling any issues that arise with the standard, suggesting that congressional action was not necessary.

“We as an administration are confident that EPA can implement that statute in a way that continues to provide the benefits that Congress envisioned while addressing challenges in the fuel marketplace,” Zichal said.

The oil industry, which has called for complete repeal of the standard, immediately criticized Zichal’s remarks, calling them an example of the administration’s short-sightedness.

“As a proselytizer for the biofuel industry, the administration is turning a blind eye on eight years of demonstrated failures in implementing an unworkable RFS,” said Charles Drevna, president of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, in a statement. “The Administration also turns a deaf ear to the growing chorus of warnings from environmentalists, poultry and meat producers, the boating industry, automakers, outdoor power equipment manufacturers, motorcyclists, snowmobilers, fuel manufacturers and others about fuel that is either unsafe in the amounts mandated, non-existent, or has damaging environmental consequences.”