Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen told members of the committee that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not the Congress, “must endeavor to faithfully honor Congress’ intent and refrain from legislating through rulemaking and regulation” in implementing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Dinneen urged Congress to remain steadfast in its support of the RFS. “Congress should resist the calls of some critics to re-open and modify the RFS,” said Dinneen.
Specifically, Dinneen noted several problems the ethanol industry and its customers have had with the EPA's interpretation of Congressional intent and the implementation of the RFS. Overreach in environmental analyses, the persistent waiving of cellulosic biofuel targets, EPA’s inexplicable exclusion of certain biofuel feedstocks, confusion over the process to approve new biofuel pathways to qualify under the RFS, and a failure to keep up with advances in lifecycle GHG analysis are just some of the problems created by EPA’s interpretation of Congressional intent.
“These challenges highlight the need for EPA to revisit Congress’ intent when it passed EISA in 2007,” Dinneen testified. “Rather than throwing up red-tape roadblocks to biofuels expansion, Congress meant for EISA to serve as the blueprint for a rapid evolution of the U.S. fuel supply toward greater volumes of renewables and less imported oil.”
Additionally, Dinneen noted that the success of the RFS hinges in no small measure on increasing ethanol use beyond 10 percent blends (E10) – the so-called ethanol blend wall. That includes expanding upon the current partial waiver for E15 blends issued by EPA earlier this year, as well as increasing the availability and use of mid and higher level ethanol blends, up to E85. “Overcoming this ‘blend wall’ issue is paramount to the success of the RFS,” Dinneen said. “Cellulosic and advanced ethanol will largely represent the renewable fuel supply beyond the E10 blend market. To leave the market artificially constrained further limits market opportunities for next generation biofuels very close to commercialization, missing an opportunity to meaningfully increase America’s use of renewable fuels and reduce our dependence on imported oil.”
Dinneen also took the opportunity to express support for the Open Fuel Standard Act introduced by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., and the Domestic Energy Promotion Act of 2011 introduced by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
Dinneen’s full testimony as prepared for delivery is available here.