Platts: US Congress committee examines RFS, plans hearings on renewable mandate

March 25, 2013

Gary Gentile, March 21- A third key congressional committee has entered the debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard, calling for comment on a series of questions and issuing a “white paper” detailing concerns about the biofuels mandate and some of the proposed solutions for increasing ethanol use.

The highest ranking Republican and Democrat members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee late Wednesday released the first of a planned five white papers on fuel policy and sent a series of questions to groups on all sides of the issue. The influential committee is expected to hold hearings on the issue later this year, but so far none have been scheduled, a spokesman said Thursday.

“It has been more than five years since the RFS was last revised, and we now have a wealth of actual implementation experience with it,” the bipartisan policy document states. “In some respects, the RFS has unfolded as expected, but in others it has not. Several implementation challenges have emerged that received little if any consideration prior to passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Furthermore, the overall energy landscape has changed since 2007. It is time to undertake an assessment of the RFS.”

The Energy and Commerce Committee is the third major congressional group to raise the issue of the RFS.

Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have expressed concern over the rising cost of renewable fuel credits, known as RINs, that refiners use to show compliance with the RFS. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat-Oregon, chairman of the Senate ENR, has said he will hold hearings later this year on rising gasoline prices, including an examination of the RINs issue.

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