House hearing focuses on RFS implementation

By Erin Voegele | June 23, 2016

On June 22, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee held a hearing on the renewable fuel standard (RFS). The event featured testimony from government officials, biofuel supporters and other stakeholders.

During the hearing, Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator at the U.S. EPA, was asked a variety of questions related to RFS regulation, rulemaking and program implementation, including questions related to RFS obligated parties and the potential to redefine the point of regulation under the program.

She noted that the issue of point of obligation is currently being addressed by the agency, noting that several petitions have been summited in support of changing the point of obligation from refiners to other parties. While McCabe was unable to offer a timeline for EPA’s response to those petitions, she did indicate that EPA believes it would have the authority to make changes to the point of obligation via rulemaking.

She also addressed several questions related to EPA’s waiver authority and RFS rulemaking timelines. She attributed past delays to RFS rulemaking largely to complex issues the EPA had to address with regard to implementation of the RFS program, including the E10 blend wall and use of the general waiver authority. With those large issues now addressed, she said she expects rulemaking to continue in a timely manner, with the 2017 rule expected to be finalized by the November 2016 statutory deadline. She also noted that ongoing litigation related to the previous RFS rule, which was finalized last year, is expected to result in guidance from the court on the EPA’s interpretation of the general waiver. That interpretation, which takes into account infrastructure issues and the blend wall, has long been criticized by those in the biofuel industry.

In addition, McCabe briefly addressed post-2022 RFS standards, stressing that the agency would be guided by RFS statute in setting those volume requirements.

Howard Gruenspecht, deputy administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chet Thompson, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers; Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association; Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corp.; Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council; Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation; Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board; and Tim Columbus, general counsel of the National Association of Convenience Stores and Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers Association of America also testified at the hearing. A variety of groups, including the Advanced Biofuel Association, Growth Energy, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and the National Farmers Union also submitted statements for the record.

Additional information, including a video of the hearing and written testimony and statements, is available on the House Energy and Commerce Committee website