Strange-bedfellow coalition pledges support for RFS reform 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2015

A strange-bedfellow coalition of interest groups today pledged support for legislation that would reform the federal renewable fuel standard.

The coalition of environmental, conservative, oil, food, livestock, marine and motorcycle groups urged Congress to “swiftly pass” the bill, which would target the corn ethanol requirements of the RFS and make other changes.

“Although our groups each have different reasons for supporting RFS reform, we all agree that the RFS is a fundamentally broken policy that disadvantages everyday Americans,” the 31 groups wrote in a letter today. “After years of growing evidence that the RFS is failing to achieve its stated goals, and in many instances actually works against them, now is the time for the bipartisan reform your legislation embodies.”

The letter is addressed to Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Steve Womack (R-Ark.). The House members are planning to hold a news conference this afternoon to introduce the “RFS Reform Act.”

The renewable fuel standard was passed into law in 2005 and expanded in 2007. It stipulated that refiners must blend certain amounts of conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels each year into petroleum fuel. Proponents of the policy in the biofuels industry say the standard has been vital in reducing greenhouse gases and increasing energy security.

But critics say the ethanol production brought on by the RFS has had a negative impact on food prices, car engines, the environment and the livestock industry. They also charge that the RFS overestimated the amount of cellulosic biofuels, or fuels made from non-food plants, that would be in the market.

The proposed legislation by Goodlatte, Costa, Womack and Welch would strike corn ethanol from the RFS, cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into petroleum gasoline and compel U.S. EPA to base its annual targets for cellulosic biofuel on actual production numbers.

The lawmakers introduced the same legislation last Congress, but the bill died in committee. It had 82 co-sponsors, nearly a quarter of them Democrats.

“We applaud and support the reintroduction of the RFS Reform Act and urge Congress to swiftly pass this commonsense legislation,” the coalition of interest groups wrote today.