Just a few days after a coalition of 20 mostly conservative groups jumped into the debate over the federal biofuels mandate and demanded full repeal, one prominent conservative leader said he’s willing to accept something less — for now.
“Do I want repeal? Yes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Would something else be an improvement over where we are? Absolutely.”
Norquist’s comment comes just days after his group and several others — including Americans for Prosperity, the American Energy Alliance, and American Commitment — sent Congress an open letter requesting full repeal of the renewable-fuel standard, and nothing less.
The standard, which requires an increasing amount of biofuels — mostly corn-based ethanol — to be blended with the nation’s gasoline supply each year, is currently under review by leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“It has come to our attention that Congress is considering legislation this fall to reform the renewable-fuel standard,” the groups wrote. “We, collectively and individually, believe the only reform to this failed government mandate should be to repeal the RFS.”
But on Monday, Norquist took a step back from the repeal-only stance. “We should repeal as much of the mandate as quickly as we can, but if we can only get rid of part of it now, we’ll get rid of some part of it now,” he said. “We’ll take that while we work towards repeal.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., are working on legislation that somehow reforms the policy but doesn’t eliminate it altogether.
The task is a difficult one, with different stakeholders pulling in different directions. Refineries and automakers would prefer no blending mandate at all, corn growers want to maximize the use of corn, and agricultural interests are concerned that diverting corn for fuel is raising food prices.
The mandate, created in 2005 and strengthened in 2007 in an attempt to wean the nation off foreign oil, has come under bipartisan scrutiny in the past year in the face of high corn prices and manipulation of the market the policy created.
According to an industry source close to the committee, lawmakers are considering a freeze on the amount of ethanol refiners can blend with gasoline — placing it at or near the current level — along with expanded waiver provisions for states and a weighted credit system for refiners selling biofuels on the basis of the fuel’s carbon intensity.
Nothing is set in stone yet. And that’s got some otherwise vocal leaders withholding opinions on anything short of a full repeal of the mandate.
“Our long-standing position on this issue has been let’s fold up the tent on this program and get rid of it completely,” said Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance.
Pyle wouldn’t comment on other potential reforms, though. “There hasn’t yet been a substantive proposal showing a path to reform, and you can’t comment on something you haven’t seen,” he said. “You hear lots of things but until there’s a proposal out there our analysts can review, we’re just like everyone else, basing it on rumors and reports.”
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When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage.
The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."
"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."
Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."
"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.