Upton, Waxman continue fuel standard review with look at GHG impacts

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, May 13, 2013

Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are continuing a review of the 5-year-old renewable fuel standard with a look at greenhouse gas emissions.

In a white paper, Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) are asking stakeholders to respond to a series of questions on whether the standard has reduced emissions and whether U.S. EPA’s methodology for calculating emissions needs to be revised.

The paper made available yesterday on the committee’s website is the third in a series of white papers in preparation for hearings that are expected this summer on the renewable fuel standard, which sets yearly levels of conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels production. The standard requires that the country blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply by 2022.

Previous papers have examined the blend wall, or the technically feasible amount of ethanol that can be used in the nation’s motor fuel supply, and the RFS’s impacts on agriculture and livestock production (E&ENews PM, April 18). They’ve garnered several comments from biofuels, oil, livestock and environmental interests.

In this newest five-page paper, the leaders acknowledge the uncertainty and disputes surrounding ethanol’s greenhouse gas emissions and whether the RFS is causing indirect land use changes in other countries. The leaders say it’s meant to be a starting point for discussion on the issues.

“Though a critical component of the RFS, the determination of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions is complex,” Upton and Waxman wrote. “The best methodology continues to be the subject of considerable debate.”