Coalition seeks fuel standard repeal through legislation

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e15A coalition of groups seeking to reform or repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates the use of biofuels such as ethanol, is shopping legislation to the House and Senate on Capitol Hill today.

Representatives of organizations ranging from environmental groups and those concerned with hunger in developing nations to taxpayer watchdog groups and refinery representatives participated in a conference call Monday to discuss the negative effects of the Environmental Protection Agency mandate passed in 2005 and strengthened in 2007.

“We have drafted some legislation and we’re circulating it on a limited basis,” National Marine Manufacturers Association legislative director Jim Currie said during the conference call. “We hope to get it introduced sometime in the near future.”

Currie told Soundings Trade Only that he hopes legislation will be introduced by the time the American Boating Congress rolls around in May, but he said it might happen prior to the event.

“At this point we’re not prepared to say exactly what the legislation contains,” Currie said during the conference call. “We are open to anything that will prevent the problems that we see looming out there as result of E15 getting out into the marketplace. I don’t want to completely tip my hand at this point, but trust me, we are out working on the issue and plan to address it legislatively.”

The move comes after a federal appeals court threw out a case brought by the NMMA and other groups to oppose the EPA waiver that would allow E15 to be introduced into the marketplace.

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a rehearing on the EPA decision that put E15 — fuel that is 15 percent ethanol — on the market. The NMMA was among the groups petitioning the court to reconsider a dismissal of the appeal in October.

Monday’s conference call included a broad spectrum of groups opposed to the standard for their own reasons.

“Inertia is the hardest thing to overcome on Capitol Hill,” Currie told Trade Only in an email. “Once something is enshrined in statute it is very hard to get it changed, especially when in a case like ethanol there is a significant cadre of members who support it.”

“I am more optimistic now because of the breadth of groups that favor amendment of the RFS — if not its outright repeal,” Currie added. “It seems evident that the RFS will be opened this year in Congress, and we want to be there as a party to its reconsideration.”

Also involved in the opposition and conference call was Kristin Sundell from ActionAid, Charlie Drevna from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, Tom Elam of FarmEcon LLC and Steve Ellis from Taxpayers for Common Sense.

— Reagan Haynes

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