Reuters: Leading Democrat says US may not be able to meet biofuel targets

April 16, 2013

Ayesha Rascoe, April 12- The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Friday questioned whether the United States would be able to meet federal biofuel targets and pledged to take a closer look at the mandate's link to gasoline prices.

Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon said the panel plans to spend “a lot of time” examining the nation's renewable fuel mandate, especially as it relates to the gasoline costs Americans pay at the pump.

“I'm not convinced that the current requirements are achievable,” Wyden said at a policy event sponsored by the law firm Arent Fox and the Georgetown Public Policy Institute.

Wyden's comments came as lawmakers spar over the future of the once widely popular ethanol mandate, which was enacted with bipartisan support during the George W. Bush administration to help wean the United States off foreign oil.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires the increased use of ethanol and biodiesel in the U.S. fuel supply, hitting 36 billion gallons of biofuels in 2022 from a base of 9 billion gallons in 2008.

It has helped create of a large ethanol industry, located mostly in major corn producing states.

But with U.S. oil output booming in recent years and gasoline demand falling on increasing vehicle efficiency, the biofuel targets have come under fire from lawmakers who say they are an unnecessary intervention in the free market and are pushing up food prices.