Sensenbrenner Bills Aimed at RFS Reform

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN/Progressive Farmer • Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2017

Although ethanol interest groups and rural lawmakers have had assurances the Trump administration will continue to support biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard, a move in Congress to reform the RFS likely will continue.

Earlier this week Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at reforming the RFS.

One bill calls for the relaxing of RFS mandates for cellulosic biofuels. Another bill calls for a study of mid-level ethanol blends.

In addition, legislation introduced last year has called for RFS reform to include limiting the amount of ethanol allowed in the gasoline supply to 9.7%.

The first Sensenbrenner bill, the comprehensive mid-level ethanol assessment legislation, would require the National Academy of Sciences to “provide a comprehensive assessment of research on the implications of the use of mid-level ethanol blends – fuel containing more than 10% ethanol by volume – compared to gasoline blends containing 10% or 0% ethanol. The study will evaluate the performance, safety, and environmental impact of mid-level ethanol blended fuels,” Sensenbrenner announced in a news release.

“The second bill focuses on cellulosic biofuel assessment. This legislation relaxes the Environmental Protection Agency’s volume requirements for cellulosic biofuel under the RFS to what is commercially available until the National Academy of Sciences submits to Congress a report on the environmental and economic impacts of cellulosic biofuel, and the feasibility of large-scale commercial production.

“These common sense bills ensure that hardworking American fuel consumers are not needlessly subjected to ineffectual and burdensome government regulations.”

Sensenbrenner said in a statement: “As a former member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I have always believed science-based decision making must guide our assessment of the RFS and the effects this policy has had on consumers, our economy, and our environment. This is especially true in a state like Wisconsin, where the use of recreational vehicles and marine engines is a way of life for many of its residents.”

It isn’t the first time Sensenbrenner has offered legislation aimed at the ethanol industry.

Last year he introduced a bill to reverse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of E15, and to require more study of the issue.

There have been a number of bills aimed at reforming the RFS in the past couple of years.

According to a position paper from the American Coalition for Ethanol in April 2016,…, those bills include the RFS Reform Act of 2015, the Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act both from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; the LEVEL Act, or Leave Ethanol Volumes at Existing Levels Act by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas; the Phantom Fuel Reform Act introduced by Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Jeff Flake, R-Arizona; American Energy Renaissance Act of 2015, by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015, by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Flake and Susan Collins, R-Maine.