UPTON TO TRY FOR RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD REFORM IN 2015, AIDE SAYS

Fred Upton (R-Mich.)

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, plans to take another stab at moving legislation that would alter the renewable fuel standard in 2015, a Republican committee aide said July 24.

While earlier committee efforts to modify the requirement stalled in 2013, the aide said expected litigation over the Environmental Protection Agency's yet-to-be-released blending requirements for 2014 would motivate stakeholders to “come to the table” and cooperate, the aide said.

“We are working on stuff, and we are optimistic,” said the aide, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record, adding that Upton is “seeking a consensus approach.”

The renewable fuel standard part of 2007 energy law, which requires refiners to blend billions of gallons of ethanol and other renewable fuels into the nation's motor fuel supply, is opposed by group's representing ExxonMobil and Chevron and supported by organization's who represent companies like Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and DuPont Co.

The 2014 proposal, released by the EPA in November 2013, included for the first time reductions in requirements for total advanced biofuels and total renewable fuels, as well as a steep reduction in the amount of cellulosic biofuel required.

But it has yet to be vetted by the White House Office of Management and Budget, typically the last stop before a final rule is published in the Federal Register.

Lawsuits Said Possible

Pro-renewable fuel groups such as the Biotechnology Industry Organization have said they “expect” to sue the EPA if the agency finalizes renewable volume obligations in line with its 2014 proposal, BIO spokesman Paul Winters told Bloomberg BNA.

A 2013 effort to makes changes to the RFS led by Upton and other senior Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee faltered after oil companies that want to see the standard repealed and ethanol producers who don't want any changes failed to find middle ground.

“We didn't have a full cooperative stakeholders universe,” the aide said of the previous efforts. “I don't think there may be more willingness for people to come to the table next year across all sides of the debate.”

“I think there will be a lot of angry stakeholders on both sides, and that usually means people are usually ready to start talking,” the aide said.

In the Senate, several proposals have been introduced to alter the RFS, such as a bill (S. 1087) by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to remove the standard's requirement for traditional corn-based ethanol.

Boxer Opposes Altering Mandate

But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the renewable fuel standard, said in December that she doesn't support altering the mandate, dealing a blow to those bills' prospects.

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