RFS supporters launch Capitol Hill lobbying blitz 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ethanol producers and their backers are hitting Capitol Hill today and tomorrow to rally support for the renewable fuel standard.

According to the American Coalition for Ethanol, which is hosting the fly-in, more than 70 ethanol supporters are in town to meet with lawmakers and congressional staff over the two days. ACE said that the group had scheduled nearly 160 meetings with offices representing 43 states.Chief among the group’s priorities is urging Congress to support the RFS, which mandates that refiners blend ethanol and advanced biofuels into petroleum fuel.

“ACE members will turn to Congress this week to convey the importance of keeping the RFS on track for implementation in 2015 and beyond,” Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president, said in a statement.

Along with ethanol producers, students, accountants, bankers, cattle feeders and gas retailers that sell higher blends of ethanol will participate, the coalition said in a news release today.

U.S. EPA is planning to release a proposed rule this spring to set the RFS volume targets for 2014, 2015 and 2016 after failing to complete a rule for 2014 last year. The agency had proposed to roll back the mandates for both ethanol and advanced biofuels but pulled back after receiving pushback from both the biofuels and oil industry.

Opponents of the RFS have called on members of Congress to either reform or repeal the policy, citing EPA’s ongoing delay to set the required annual mandates as evidence that the policy is broken. The National Council of Chain Restaurants, which says that ethanol use is driving up input costs for chain restaurants, this week took out an ad in Beltway publications asking the House Energy and Commerce Committee to craft bipartisan RFS legislation.

Although several bills have been introduced this Congress taking aim at the RFS, reform of the policy has so far not been a priority for energy leaders in either the House or the Senate.

Biofuel producers have mostly called on Congress to not make any changes to the RFS. But in recent weeks, the Advanced Biofuels Association, a trade group representing about 30 biofuel producers, threw its weight behind reforming the RFS for the first time (Greenwire, March 11).

Jennings called on Congress to resist changes to the RFS.

“ACE’s fly-in is timely because in recent days a group disguised as a biofuel supporter has endorsed legislative changes to the RFS,” he said, “and dozens of special interests who profit from blocking market access to ethanol have called on Congress to repeal the RFS.”