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Bill to reform US' Renewable Fuel Standard opens huge discussion

(SeeNews) - Apr 11, 2013 - A bill to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that envisages a cut in the RFS requirement and the exclusion of corn-based biofuels from it, caused much ado this week as various organisations issued statements to support or attack the proposal.

The “Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act” was introduced recently by congressmen Bob Goodlatte, Jim Costa, Steve Womack and Peter Welch. It aims to prohibit corn-based ethanol from being used to meet the RFS, which in 2013 requires that 13 billion gallons (49 bn litres) of ethanol be blended into fuel sold in the US. Another point in the bill calls for a cut in the RFS size by 42% in nine years. It also seeks to put a 10% limit to the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline and urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to match cellulosic biofuels levels to production levels.

In a statement on Wednesday, the bill’s authors said that “renewable fuels play an important role in our energy policy but should compete fairly in the marketplace.”

According to Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen “It would be more direct and intellectually honest to simply say ‘this bill restores Big Oil’s monopoly’”. He says that the bill seeks to “gut” the only scheme that has successfully opened the market to biofuels, thus cutting US’ dependence on imported oil and reducing the consumer price of gasoline.

A similar reaction was triggered by Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council. “Disguised as a reform effort supportive of advanced biofuels, the RFS Reform Act actually guts the RFS by eliminating key provisions that require oil companies to actually change their behavior and buy renewable fuels [..] It is doubtful that the sponsors of this legislation truly believe that the best way to promote second generation biofuel is to kill first generation biofuel and provide Congressional protections for the oil industry’s monopoly over the fuel blend in the process.”

A number of other ogranisations, mainly from the food industry, applauded the reform proposal. A coalition of 13 food groups on Wednesday said that “restoring the balance between food and fuel crops is long overdue” and complained on the significant price jumps for corn that they say are a result of the huge amount of corn being diverted by the RFS to fuel production.

The National Council of Chain Restaurants said on the same day that its “broad membership of quick-service, fast casual and table service restaurants support repeal of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).”

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for almost nine years. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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