EPA: Draft bill to stop GHG regulations would jeopardize RFS

By Kris Bevill | February 09, 2011

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives energy and power subcommittee expressed concern during a Feb. 9 hearing that draft legislation to prevent the U.S. EPA from enforcing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulations would threaten the future of the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

In her testimony, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the bill would prohibit the EPA from taking further actions to implement the RFS, imposing unintentional negative impacts on the industry. A memo issued to Democratic subcommittee members from House Energy Committee ranking member Henry Waxman and subcommittee ranking member Bobby Rush stated that because the draft bill would prohibit the EPA from taking actions related to GHGs, it would therefore prevent the EPA from establishing renewable fuel volumes beginning in 2012. “EPA would also be prohibited from taking other actions under the program, such as approving new types of renewable fuels,” the representatives stated in the memo. “Several specific facilities are currently seeking approval for their renewable fuels from EPA. This would create great uncertainty in the alternative fuels market and potentially remove one of the most significant drivers for alternative fuels development in the United States.”

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., referred to the draft bill as the “Polluters’ Protection Act of 2011” and said it would bar the EPA from taking any action to further reduce oil demands from all types of vehicles and would undermine the RFS. “Basically, what we have here is legislation that is a regulatory relief bill for oilmen in Oklahoma and at OPEC … that will come back to haunt us in years ahead because we did not use America’s greatest strength—our technical genius—to improve the vehicles we drive, the appliances we use, and the efficiencies of the buildings in which we live,” he said.

Rep. Ed Whitfield, chairman of the subcommittee and one of three co-sponsors of the draft legislation, said the bill’s creators would try to address the RFS concerns raised by committee members and Jackson. All of the bill’s sponsors expressed confidence that the bill would be passed at the subcommittee and committee levels and be heard on the House floor in the near future. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., testified to the subcommittee as a fellow co-sponsor of the draft and went so far as to suggest Congress would override a potential presidential veto on the bill.