Stabenow decries ‘uncertainty’ over RFS determination

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014

The momentum built on the renewable fuel standard is waning as producers sit in limbo before U.S. EPA’s final determination on the program, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said this morning.

“I know you share my concern about EPA’s proposal to reduce the renewable fuel standard,” said the Michigan Democrat to an audience at the Energy Department’s annual conference on biomass. “The uncertainty over the RFS has had a chilling effect already.”

EPA last fall proposed a nearly 10 percent cut in ethanol volume production and a 16 percent cut in advanced biofuels from statutory targets — the first time the agency has backed down from increasing the annual goals for production.

“I can assure you I am in meetings many, many, many days in a month on this issue,” Stabenow said.

White House adviser John Podesta told senators last week that the administration plans to increase volumes in the final rule. The announcement of the final rule is “imminent,” said Podesta, but a release date remains unknown (E&E Daily, July 25).

Stabenow at this morning’s conference drew on her state’s automotive roots to promote manufacturing from plant-based materials.

She spoke of Henry Ford’s 1986 quadricycle, which ran on ethanol. Ford designed the iconic Model T to run on the biofuel too, only to run into problems as Prohibition put an end to legal ethanol production. Post-prohibition, Ford developed another vehicle, with plastics made of soybeans, a body made from hemp and ethanol fuel. It was called the “car that grew from the soil,” she said.

Stabenow also praised renewed funding for energy programs in the 2014 farm bill, including the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Biopreferred program, the latter of which will include wood-based products for the first time in its list of preferential materials for federal contracting.

Following the rule’s departure from the Office of Management and Budget earlier this month, the Agriculture Department will soon finalize the changes in the Biopreferred program.