Senators, Business Air Disputes on Renewable Fuel

Kimberly White/Bloomberg News

Senators questioned the usefulness of EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard — which covers the production of biodiesel blended into truck fuel — with some calling for the abolition of the supports and other saying RFS should be modified to accommodate changes in the nation’s energy sector.

The Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee heard from government officials and industry executives Dec. 11 on the workings of RFS, which sets production and blending-rate goals for biodiesel and three other types of fuel, including corn-based ethanol.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard is fundamentally flawed and limps along, year after year,” said Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, the ranking Republican on the EPW panel. He said the standards hurt consumers by driving up food prices.

Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) said he wants to keep the program intact, but worries that diverting corn into fuel production harms poultry producers who need to buy the grain to feed their animals.

An oil company lobbyist asked Congress to repeal the program, and a farmer said RFS helps American agriculture.

Biodiesel producers bristled after the Environmental Protection Agency published a Nov. 29 regulatory proposal calling for biodiesel production to remain flat at 1.28 billion gallons a year through 2015. The National Biodiesel Board was seeking an increase in the RFS level to 1.7 billion gallons in 2014.

While some trucks do burn pure biodiesel, known as B100, more commonly the biofuel made from vegetable or animal oils is blended into conventional diesel fuel at rates of 2% to 20%.


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