Can members of Congress and President Obama find common ground on whether to reform, repeal or leave as-is a federal biofuels mandate?
The Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires increasingly large amounts of biofuels each year, was part of a comprehensive energy bill signed by President George W. Bush in 2005 and expanded two years later during a drive to make the country more energy-independent. Most of the mandate is currently met with corn-produced ethanol; advanced biofuels made from products other than corn are not coming to market as quickly as the law had originally envisioned. The mandate has come under intense bipartisan scrutiny since last summer's historic drought, which sent corn prices soaring.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has released a series of bipartisan white papers on the policy and held two hearings. It's likely the committee will produce legislation later this year. While it's unclear whether the upper chamber plans to hold hearings, senators from both parties are becoming more concerned about the policy.
What kind of compromise can the different sides of this issue agree upon? Should Congress push legislation, or is a solution to concerns about the mandate something the Obama administration can solve without Capitol Hill? How can Washington get past the polarizing corners of this debate to find a way forward?
What, if anything, has changed since this forum last discussed the issue in March?