Bill requiring more E15 study out of committee, gets CBO review

By Susanne Retka Schill | April 30, 2013

A bill proposed Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., that would put E15 on hold for another round of studies was evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office. The cost evaluation followed the bill’s passage in a full committee markup on April 11 by a vote of 18:17, split along party lines.

H.R. 875 would require the U.S. EPA to coordinate with the National Academy of Sciences to provide an assessment of the scientific and technical research associated with midlevel ethanol blends (10 to 20 percent). The CBO reported back to the House Committee of Science, Space and Technology that implementing the legislation would cost about $1 million, but that it would not affect direct spending or revenues, “therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.” The CBO’s estimated cost is higher than the $900,000 set in the legislation that was to come from funds made available for science and technology.

The legislation also would suspend sales of the midlevel blends until the study is completed. The cost of the private-sector impacts is estimated by the CBO to fall under a $150 million threshold set in the Unfunded mandates Reform Act, due to the relatively small volume of sales.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., introduced H.R. 875 shortly after it was discussed at a Feb. 26 hearing that cast a negative light on E15. The ethanol industry responded strongly to the one-sided Feb. 26 hearing. 

In addition to calling for a comprehensive assessment of research already conducted, the bill calls for a short-term and long-term evaluation of the use of midlevel blends in nonroad vehicles, marine engines and related equipment. The legislation would also restrict the EPA’s ability to grant new fuel waivers until it submitted the report to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of and Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

In mid-February, Sensenbrenner introduced a bill seeking to block EPA’s ability to increase the yearly renewable fuel standard cellulosic biofuel requirements. Last year, he also unsuccessfully attempted to delay the introduction of E15 into the marketplace.