Senator Lankford: Congress Should Repeal Renewable Fuel Standard Program
WASHINGTON, DC – The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, under the chairmanship of Senator James Lankford (R-OK), today held a hearing to examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and discuss two Government Accountability Office reports about the program released earlier this week. The first report shows that the RFS program is unlikely to meet its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding the US renewable fuels sector. The second report shows that low expected production volumes make it unlikely that advanced biofuels can meet the RFS program’s increasing targets through 2022.
Witnesses for today’s hearing included: EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe and GAO Director of Natural Resources and Environment Frank Rusco.
“The ethanol Renewable Fuel Standard mandates have been unrealistic from the start, and that is exactly what this week’s GAO report affirmed,” said Lankford. “The EPA’s inability to release ethanol fuel blend requirements has created significant uncertainty and great challenges for blenders and biofuel producers. The RFS program isn’t meeting the greenhouse gas emission goals, it is unsustainable, and it yields few benefits, while it has inflicted substantial costs on consumers. The renewable fuel standard mandate simply doesn’t work. Just like Congress has done with No Child Left Behind education mandates with the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act this year, it is time for Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard mandate.”
During his opening statement, Director Rusco said, “The RFS is expected to fall short of its goals because of limited production of advanced biofuels and reliance on conventional corn-starch ethanol. …the RFS is unlikely to achieve the targeted level of greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”
In 2005, Congress established the RFS with the goals of reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and lowering greenhouse gas emissions by mandating that biofuels be blended with domestic transportation fuel in increasing volumes through the year 2022. However, the situation has changed dramatically since the RFS’s enactment in 2005 and subsequent 2007 revision. Demand for oil is lower than originally predicted and the US also imports much less oil than initially forecasted.
The EPA is required to release the final volumes of biofuels to be blended into the gasoline supply by November 30 of the preceding year to allow industry participants and other stakeholders to comply and plan for the future. Between 2009 and 2015, the EPA was consistently six to 18 months late in meeting this deadline, causing uncertainty in the energy industry. The EPA did release its 2017 volumes on November 23rd, thus meeting the statutory deadline.