U.S. Biofuel Policy News: July 2, 2013

Here’s an update on recent news items and other public policy developments relating to the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and other U.S. biofuel policies.

Renewable Fuel Standard

House subcommittee holds hearing on RFS. The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Power has held a hearing on June 26, entitled “Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard: Government Perspectives.” The witnesses were from the EPA, the Energy Information Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Subcommittee chair Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) has said that the goal of the hearing was to compare original expectations for the RFS with actual experience to date. In notable highlights, Christopher Grundler of the EPA testified that the agency doesn’t expect the “blend wall” to be exceeded until 2014, and Joseph Glauber, USDA’s chief economist, stated the department’s view that biofuel production has had only a small effect on U.S. food prices. Further hearings on the RFS from the full Committee are expected later this year, to follow up the four white papers released by the Committee in recent months, on which public comment was solicited. 

Other Biofuel Policy News

Supreme Court rejects appeal on E15 waiver litigation
. On June 3, the American Petroleum Institute filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to agree to hear the appeal of EPA’s decision to grant approvals for E15 ethanol-gasoline blends. As previously reported, three industry groups including API filed a petition asking the Court to overturn an Appeals Court decision that the groups did not have legal standing to challenge EPA’s actions allowing E15 to be sold in the U.S., and the API brief made similar arguments before the Court. The U.S. Solicitor General filed a brief in late May in support of the Appeals Court decision, and urging the Supreme Court not to take the case. On June 24, the Supreme Court announced that it would not take the case, thus allowing the Appeals Court ruling against API and its coplaintiffs to stand, and effectively ending this attempt to overturn the E15 waiver decisions.

Defense Department biorefinery contracts awarded. The Defense Department has announced that it has awarded three contracts for development of biorefineries to produce renewable fuels for military use. These contracts, which resulted from the RFA issued in the summer of 2012, were given to Emerald Biofuels LLC of Golf, Illinois; Natures BioReserve LLC of South Sioux City, Nebraska; and Fulcrum Brighton Biofuels LLC of Pleasanton, California. The three contracts together include $16 million in funding, which will be matched by contributions from the awardees.

New legislation introduced in House of Representatives.  Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has filed a bill in the House, H.R. 2564, that would extend the current 2.5% tariff on imports of fuel ethanol. Also in the House of Representatives, Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lethtinen (R-Fla.) introduced H.R. 2493, the Open Fuel Standard Act, that would require an increasing percentage of the nation’s automobile fleet to operate on non-petroleum fuels.

Prospects for new Farm Bill uncertain. Although the U.S. Senate passed a version of a new Farm Bill that contained mandatory funding for the energy titles, the U.S. House rejected a Republican-sponsored version of the bill. This vote betrayed a substantial rift within the Republican House delegation, leading to a great deal of uncertainty as to whether the House would be able to pass a Farm Bill at all this year.

Previous Biofuel Policy Watch posts on RFS policy:

D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. Dr. Glass also serves as director of regulatory affairs for Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. or any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels


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