U.S. Reps. Gregg Harper (R., Miss.) and Jim Matheson (D., Utah) introduced a bill Feb. 6 that takes the pressure off of meeting the cellulosic ethanol requirements in the Renewable Fuels Standard.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required the nation’s petroleum supply to contain a blend of more than 20 million gallons of renewable fuel additives, commonly referred to as cellulosic biofuel, since 2010. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service recently reported that cellulosic biofuel is not estimated to reach commercial volumes until at least 2015.
“This legislation simply requires the EPA to rely on actual industry production instead of bureaucratic predictions,” said the lawmakers, who serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Noncompliance fines are issued to energy producers who fail to meet the EPA’s fuel rules. Refiners may also purchase credits through the agency to avoid the fees.
“The agency’s current method for calculating these fuel standards leaves America’s energy suppliers with two options: pay government penalties or buy government credits,” Harper added. “Either way, the cost is likely passed through to consumers who are already paying high gas prices.”
Matheson called it a "common sense bill" because it requires the EPA to take into account actual production numbers and protects business and consumers from unrealistic goals resulting in higher costs.
A recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision knocked down the EPA’s 2012 mandate, saying that the agency is not allowed “to let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology.” The EPA has moved forward with its 2013 numbers that increase last year’s standards by an additional six million gallons.
A statement from Fuels America called the bill "short-sited" and Growth Energy added it is a "well-disguised end run around the RFS, attempting to eliminate the use of biofuels in the commercial marketplace" by "pandering to the wishes of the oil industry."
The bill will be referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.