Groups are optimistic Congress will act on ethanol

Posted on Written by Reagan Haynes

Groups opposed to increasing ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply said they were optimistic that Congress — though plagued by a track record that is poised to make it the least productive in history — will act on the issue.

“There has been amazing movement in our direction in Congress in the last couple of years,” National Chicken Council president Mike Brown told reporters during a conference call Wednesday.

“When you look at the diverse nature of folks calling for significant reform or repeal of the Renewable Fuel Standard, that’s in and of itself emblematic,” Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuels and Petrochemical Manufacturers, said during the call. “You have conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats lining up and saying this thing is broken. We are really encouraged by the bipartisan commitment. No one ever said it was going to be easy.”

The optimism came on the same day that The Boston Globe reported that this Congress is on track to go down in history as the least productive ever.

The call was a precursor to a hearing set by the Environmental Protection Agency today to discuss a proposal that would lower the levels of biofuels required in the fuel supply for the first time since Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007.

The EPA acted under a waiver that gave it some authority to lower the amount of biofuels required in the fuel supply because of a drought and subsequent corn shortage.

“First and foremost, we want to commend the EPA for taking a giant step toward addressing the current-day realities of the Renewable Fuel Standard with the drafting of the 2014 proposed RVOs,” said Nicole Palya Wood, a government affairs representative with BoatUS, which joined the list advocating revision of the RFS.

“We applaud their pivotal recognition of the shrinking demand for fuel and hope this sends a signal to Congress of the dangers that an impending blend wall presents to the average consumer. The EPA has in a small way recognized the impact to the consumer in addressing these market changes, and now is the time for Congress to do so, as well.”

Groups such as the National Corn Growers Association and Growth Energy maintain that an increase in ethanol production helps the environment, reduces dependence on foreign fuel and creates jobs.

“The RFS was approved by a bipartisan majority in Congress and enacted into law nearly six years ago,” Growth Energy’s regulatory affairs director, Chris Billey, said during today’s hearing, according to the website. He also said the standard “created jobs, revitalized rural America, injected much-needed competition into the vehicle fuels market, lowered the price at the pump, improved the environment and made our nation more energy-independent.”

Nicole Vasilaros regulatory and legal affairs director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, who was also on the call, said the EPA’s move was commendable but that a temporary stopgap is not the answer.

“When it comes to the RFS, NMMA and the boating industry at large will continue to do our part,” she said. “We will continue to explore alternative biofuels, such as isobutanol, just as we have done in the past. We will continue to invest in testing that reveals exactly how ethanol is hurting marine engines so that we can better inform our consumers.”

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