A duo of strange bedfellows introduced legislation Thursday that would significantly reform — and reduce in scope — the renewable fuel standard, a mandate that requires increasingly large amounts of biofuels to be blended with gasoline.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would eliminate the corn-ethanol portion of the RFS but retain the smaller mandates that require volumes of advanced biofuels not derived from feedstock, such as cellulosic. Feinstein and Coburn have worked together in the past on eliminating subsidies for the corn-ethanol industry.
In a rarity for energy policy, this legislation is attracting support right out of the gate from both sides of the aisle. Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., are also cosponsors.
Another unlikely pair — Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and David Vitter, R-La. — is working on separate legislation that also seeks to keep the advanced-biofuels goals of the program intact while removing altogether or reducing the corn-ethanol part. Timing on this legislation is unclear, a spokesperson for Cardin said Wednesday.
The RFS, enacted in 2005 and strengthened significantly in 2007, requires refiners to blend 16.55 billion gallons of biofuels in 2013. Most of that — 13 billion — will be corn ethanol. The mandate has come under intense scrutiny from a diverse group of stakeholders, ranging from the oil and refining industries, to livestock and food groups, to environmentalists.
After dithering on the issue for much of this year, the Senate held its first hearing on the mandate Wednesday, in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., indicated she won’t support major reform to the policy. “As chairman of this committee, and I have the gavel for now, I’m not going to let us reverse course…. I’m just not,” she said.
“No program is perfect, that’s for sure, whatever it is; even in the private sector, no new product is perfect and no new marketing strategy is perfect at first. So we’ve got to work together, and I’m willing to do that. But I just think, overall, let’s not turn our back on a way to make sure we can become more energy independent and have a better environment in the long run,” Boxer added.
Meanwhile, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., have been jointly working on the RFS since March.
What We're Following See More »
"The Trump administration is failing to hire law enforcement personnel to enforce immigration laws despite a significant push to do so, according to new Homeland Security Department documents. The hiring of new deportation officers at Immigration and Customs Enforcement dropped in half to just 371 total in 2017, according to information provided to potential vendors for a contract to help ICE boost hiring."
"Under cover of darkness, U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71) slipped through the Bosporus Strait and into the Black Sea on Friday. The next day USS Carney (DDG-64) joined Ross. The ships are operating are part of an unspecified regional “proactive” presence mission in the sea bordered by Russia, according to the Navy."
"Special counsel Robert Mueller's interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the inquiry. This is the first indication that Mueller is exploring Kushner's discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China." At issue specifically is his quest for financing help on the beleaguered 666 Fifth Avenue building.