The battle over ethanol continues to rage as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to release the 2014 renewable-fuel standard, a mandate determining the amount of biofuel refiners will be required to blend with gasoline next year.
Both supporters and opponents of the biofuels mandate have been making their cases before the public and the administration for months. Now, however, lawmakers are increasingly adding their voices to the conversation in an attempt to wrest power away from the agency and back to Congress.
Last Thursday, Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Steve Womack, R-Ark., sent a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 165 additional lawmakers from the House to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking for reduced requirements for corn ethanol next year.
The letter argues that the renewable-fuels standard raises corn prices and could damage car engines when the E10 blendwall — the point at which gasoline blends exceed 10 percent ethanol — is reached.
The letter defers to the EPA’s authority to carry out the recommendation. But in an interview with National Journal Daily, Welch emphasized that while he and other lawmakers want EPA to revise the mandate downward, RFS reform is an issue that should ultimately be decided by Congress.
“We want the EPA to use its authority given to it by Congress in the short-term to make a practical decision to keep the mandate from increasing,” Welch said. “But the entire ethanol mandate should be reconsidered by Congress. We want immediate action from the agency, but we’re going to continue to work in Congress to achieve broader reform.”
In April, Goodlatte, Welch, Costa, and Womack introduced a bill to amend the renewable-fuels standard by limiting the amount of ethanol that refiners would be required to blend with gasoline and cutting out the conventional biofuels mandate altogether.
The bill has not yet been reported out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, however, and faced with congressional inaction the lawmakers are seeking to influence EPA.
On the other side of the Capitol, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., are also vying to amend the RFS through legislation.
Aides for both senators confirmed the two are working together to draft legislation to eliminate the corn-ethanol mandate from the RFS. The aides did not comment as to a possible release date, but a draft could surface sometime this week.
At least one representative from the biofuels industry expressed concern over the possibility of legislative tinkering with the standard.
“I’m disappointed that so many members of Congress would be uninformed and encourage the administration to reduce the RFS in this way, which really would be a retreat of the RFS which calls for increasing volumes of biofuels to be blended with gasoline,” said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, a group based in South Dakota. “We have a lot of confidence so far in how EPA has handled the administration of the RFS and we continue to believe that the place where the RFS can and should be adjusted is at the EPA.”
EPA is required by law to publish next year’s RFS this month, with the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry, threatening to sue the agency if it does not finalize the 2014 standard by Nov. 30.
What We're Following See More »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.