Will House Legislation on Contentious Biofuels Policy Ever Happen?

Chaiman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), questions Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, (D-IN), and retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, co-chairmen of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future during a hearing on Capitol Hill February 1, 2012 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee heard the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future on how to create safe, long-term solutions for managing and disposing of the nation's spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
National Journal
Amy Harder
Add to Briefcase
Amy Harder
Jan. 10, 2014, 6 a.m.

After a host of rare bi­par­tis­an hear­ings and re­ports last year, the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee may not in­tro­duce le­gis­la­tion at all ad­dress­ing the con­tro­ver­sial re­new­able fuel stand­ard, ac­cord­ing to one key Re­pub­lic­an mem­ber of the com­mit­tee.

Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois., chair­man of the En­vir­on­ment and En­ergy Sub­com­mit­tee and a ne­go­ti­at­or of the pan­el’s bio­fuels policy, said the com­mit­tee is at least in a hold­ing pat­tern un­til the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency fi­nal­izes a reg­u­la­tion on this rule, which isn’t ex­pec­ted to hap­pen un­til later this spring or sum­mer.

“I can safely say there will be no le­gis­la­tion un­til at least then,” Shimkus said in an in­ter­view Thursday. “I’m not op­tim­ist­ic that there’s go­ing to be le­gis­la­tion any­more.”

A spokes­wo­man for the com­mit­tee said in a state­ment that le­gis­la­tion is still needed.

“While EPA’s an­nounce­ment has helped al­le­vi­ate some of the most press­ing con­cerns, the need for le­gis­lat­ive re­form is still ne­ces­sary,” said com­mit­tee spokes­wo­man Char­lotte Baker. “The un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the pro­posed rule and the threat of a ju­di­cial chal­lenge un­der­score the need for a le­gis­lat­ive fix. The com­mit­tee is con­tinu­ing to mon­it­or EPA’s rule­mak­ing and is cur­rently con­sid­er­ing a range of solu­tions.”

The re­new­able-fuel stand­ard, cre­ated in 2005 and sig­ni­fic­antly strengthened in 2007, re­quires re­finer­ies to blend an in­creas­ingly large amount of bio­fuels — mainly from corn eth­an­ol — in­to the na­tion’s gas­ol­ine sup­ply. It has faced in­creas­ing cri­ti­cism over the past year, in part be­cause of the sum­mer of 2012’s his­tor­ic drought and be­cause ma­jor oil com­pan­ies claim the bio­fuels levels are high­er than what’s tech­nic­ally pos­sible.

In Novem­ber, EPA pro­posed bio­fuels levels for 2014 that were lower than bio­fuels pro­du­cers had wanted, and it pleased — to a lim­ited ex­tent — the oil in­dustry.

“I think the EPA has taken a lot of the steam out,” Shimkus said.

A lot has changed since last year. In a rar­ity, House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton, R-Mich., and rank­ing Demo­crat Henry Wax­man, D-Cal­if., have been work­ing to­geth­er on this is­sue throughout the bet­ter part of 2013. Their staffs wrote white pa­pers to­geth­er and col­lab­or­ated on hear­ings. Shimkus said last sum­mer that the com­mit­tee was plan­ning to write le­gis­la­tion. But then EPA pro­posed its rule in Novem­ber.

“EPA did their job,” Shimkus said.

Now, ap­par­ently, Con­gress may not have to.

What We're Following See More »
HEALTH IN QUESTION
Sen. Cochran Back to Washington Tuesday
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
THIRD VERSION OF THE BAN
Federal Judge Temporarily Stops Trump’s Travel Ban
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A federal district court in Hawaii has temporarily blocked the third iteration of President Trump's travel ban. Judge Derrick Watson said the new targeted restrictions on travel from eight countries Trump issued on Sept. 24 suffers the same problems as the previous order."

Source:
FORMER ELI LILLY EXEC
Trump Leaning Towards Alex Azar for HHS
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump is leaning toward nominating Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical industry executive and George W. Bush administration official, to serve as Health and Human Services secretary, according to two White House officials...Azar is a veteran of HHS. He served as the department’s general counsel and deputy secretary during the Bush administration." He led Eli Lilly's U.S. operations from 2012-17.

Source:
ENOUGH SUPPORT TO PASS?
Senators Reach Bipartisan ACA Deal
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Sen. Lamar Alexander says he and Sen. Patty Murray have reached a deal to fund the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing subsidies in exchange for giving states more regulatory flexibility with the law." Axios is watching to see if the deal will gather support.

Source:
INDEX UP MORE THAN 20% SINCE ELECTION
Dow Jones Hits 23,000 Threshold
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login