Feinstein, Coburn Seek to Eliminate Corn in Biofuels Mandate

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) listens during a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works meeting discussing global warming on January 30, 2007.
National Journal
Amy Harder
Add to Briefcase
Amy Harder
Dec. 12, 2013, 6:59 a.m.

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. 

Clare Foran contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
TO CLOSE TEST SITES
North Korea Says It Will Suspend Nuclear Tests
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"North Korea says it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the suspension of nuclear and ICBM tests went into effect Saturday." The announcement comes shortly before Kim Jong Un "is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a border truce village for a rare summit aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang."

Source:
FOSTER FREISS TO MAKE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY
GOP Megadonor Running For Governor In Wyoming
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Republican megadonor Foster Friess has told party leaders in Wyoming that he plans to run for governor," and is expected to make an announcement this afternoon. Friess has donated "millions of dollars to Republican candidates and causes over the last decade, according to federal campaign finance records," including over "$1.7 million to boost Santorum's [presidential] campaign" in 2016. Gov. Matt Mead (R) is term-limited, and "a handful of Republicans are running in an open primary to succeed him in one of the reddest states in the country."

Source:
DEATH TOLL REACHES 38
Israeli Army Kills Four Palestinian Protestors
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Four Palestinian protestors have been killed by Israeli fire near the Gaza-Israel border, bringing the death toll to 38, in what marks the "fourth consecutive week of Gaza's March of Return mass protests." The marches are part of a "month-and-a-half-long protest organized by Hamas near the border fence," which organizers have said will not stop before May 15. The marches are intended to emulate anti-apartheid protests in South Africa, and to commemorate the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, during the establishment of the State of Israel.

Source:
NO TIMELINE SET
McCabe To Sue For Wrongful Termination, Defamation
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is looking to sue for defamation, wrongful termination and other possible civil claims, his lawyer told reporters Friday." McCabe's attorney Michael Bromwich said that his team "hasn't managed to find any witnesses to corroborate McCabe's version of the story," although they have not had enough time to do so. "McCabe’s lawyers are also seeking ways to release the emails between McCabe and Comey, which would offer insight into their communication about the leaks to the Wall Street Journal."

Source:
SEEKS COMPENSATORY DAMAGES
DNC Files Sweeping Lawsuit Over 2016 Election
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump. The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there." The DNC is seeking "millions of dollars in compensation to offset damage it claims the party suffered from the hacks," and is arguing the cyberattack" undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and, in some cases, death threats."

Source:
×
×

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