WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte chaired a hearing today to review agriculture’s role in a renewable fuels standard (RFS). The Chairman’s hearing was particularly timely as House and Senate conferees met to iron out differences in the energy bills passed in those chambers earlier this year. The House energy bill includes a five billion gallon RFS while the Senate has an eight billion gallon RFS in its version.
Rising gas prices, increased dependency on foreign oil, and environmental concerns have propelled interest in developing additional domestic energy sources. Agriculture plays a significant role in biofuels production and the Committee heard testimony about how renewable fuels, including ethanol and biodiesel, are produced using numerous agriculture products including forestry biomass, livestock waste, as well as commodities such as sugar cane and beets, wheat, corn, and soybeans.
“As energy prices continue to rise, and as we work to reduce our dependency on foreign sources of energy, we must do all we can to promote the development of alternative fuels and create new markets for agricultural products that serve as sources for these biofuels,” said Chairman Goodlatte.
The Committee also heard testimony about how the production of biofuels provides new opportunities for producers to market their agricultural products and commodities. “Renewable energy is a win-win for America’s farmers and consumers. The growing market for ethanol, biodiesel and other homegrown energy sources is a great success story for American agriculture,” said Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson (D-MN).
The Chairman cautioned that an increase in reliable domestic fuel supply should not come at the expense of increased cost for livestock feed. “We must also ensure that we continue to have a reliable and affordable supply of feed for our livestock industry. If a Renewable Fuels Standard is implemented, we must work to ensure that there are not unintended economic distortions as a result,” said Chairman Goodlatte.
“Today, we heard from experts who told us the expanded use of renewable fuels will reduce our dependency on foreign oil, drive down gas prices and improve our environment. A Renewable Fuels Standard is truly a benefit on all fronts,” said Representative Gil Gutknecht (R-MN).
In late June, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson cosponsored bipartisan legislation, the Renewable Fuels Act of 2005, introduced by Representatives Gil Gutknecht and Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), to establish an eight billion gallon RFS by 2012. During today’s hearing, RFS proponents expressed strong support for the eight billion gallon provision included in the Senate energy bill.
“This bill is vital to our energy security and I believe it should be an integral part of our national energy policy. The strong and growing support for this legislation makes one thing clear: support for this concept is not limited by region or ideology – it is becoming increasingly recognized as an important national energy issue,” said Representative Herseth.
The hearing included testimony from Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who also serves as Chairman of the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition, USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins, and a variety of agriculture industry representatives.
The Honorable Tim Pawlenty, Governor, State of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota
Dr. Keith Collins, Chief Economist, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. David Frederickson, President, National Farmers Union, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Leon Corzine, President, National Corn Growers Association, Assumption, Illinois
Mr. Douglas Faulkner, Owner/Operator, Virginia Biodiesel Refinery, LLC, Westpoint, Virginia, on behalf of the American Soybean Association
Mr. James Mason, General Manager, Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative, Hinton, Virginia, on behalf of the National Turkey Federation and the National Chicken Council
Ms. Lori Perine, Executive Director, American Forest and Paper Association, Washington, D.C.