Biofuel Revamp Debate Powers Up, Includes Higher Ethanol Blends
by Brian Dabbs (Bloomberg BNA) Long-awaited efforts to modify biofuel policy are entering the limelight across Capitol Hill.
A Senate panel will host a hearing next week on a bill to allow summer sales of vehicle fuel with high concentrations of ethanol. Meanwhile, the House is wading through a series of discussions with interest groups aimed at overhauling the broad blending mandate, known as the renewable fuel standard (RFS).
While the two initiatives are moving in parallel, the Senate bill could ultimately play a critical role in revamping the standard, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), the House lawmaker leading the meetings, and industry specialists told Bloomberg BNA.
An overhaul could include sunsetting the program altogether or providing relief, possibly in the form of tax credits, for advanced biofuel producers, as well as a range of other proposals, but Shimkus said the contours of that effort are vague at best.
The Senate bill (S. 517) will go before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee June 14, committee spokesman Mike Danylak told Bloomberg BNA. That measure would waive summer restrictions on transportation fuel containing 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, and higher ethanol blends.
Still, any change will involve a broad deal, Scott Segal, an energy attorney who heads the policy group at Bracewell LLP, told Bloomberg BNA.
“I suspect that changes to the law will include a variety of topics,” he said. “It’s unrealistic for any participant in the RFS debate to think that the only changes that will be made will benefit their point of view. That’s not the history of the way the law was put forward.”
A bipartisan group of six House lawmakers, led by Shimkus, is scheduling meetings with other organizations that may be affected by a change in the RFS, such as convenience store owners and auto makers. The lawmakers met with the American Petroleum Institute, biofuel groups and others last week, Shimkus told Bloomberg BNA. READ MORE and MORE (Politico’s Morning Energy) and MORE (DallasNews.com)
Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy: GET THOSE E15 PITCHES IN: More than two dozen advanced biofuel producers and trade associations, led by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and Advanced Biofuels Business Council, sent Barrasso and Carper a letter Monday urging support for the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517). That measure, which would allow year-round sales of the E15, is slated for a hearing in EPW on Wednesday. READ MORE