Subcommittee Reviews Renewable Fuel Standard Implementation

Jul 24, 2008

WASHINGTON - Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research held a hearing to review the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) implementation and agriculture producer eligibility. Congressman Tim Holden of Pennsylvania is Chairman of the Subcommittee.

"As our economy diversifies its energy supply, it is critical we take advantage of all potential sources of renewable biomass," Holden said. "Unfortunately, the RFS contains some restrictions that could delay and threaten meeting the aggressive targets for cellulosic ethanol in the RFS and hold us back from achieving energy independence. I hope this hearing serves as a learning opportunity, and leads to a change in law that will benefit all regions and decrease our dependence on foreign oil."

"During the development of the recently enacted Farm Bill, I worked closely with Chairman Peterson and Mr. Holden to craft an Energy Title that would help provide new markets for our agriculture crops and enhance the economic development of our rural areas. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the development of advanced biofuels," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Frank Lucas of Oklahoma. "By placing more emphasis on research and development of advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic biofuels, we will be able to diversify the production of biofuels, which will alleviate the pressure placed on agricultural supply and the price concerns associated with corn ethanol, and will assist growth of rural economies."

Congress expanded the RFS last December in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA, P.L. 110-140). The new RFS increases the use requirement to 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2022, of which only 15 billion gallons can be ethanol from corn. The remaining 21 billion gallons must come from "advanced biofuels," meaning those made from non-starch feedstocks.

The Subcommittee heard from government officials, researchers, and producers who provided an update on the implementation process and shared concerns on barriers to eligibility for many agricultural producers. The law contains restrictions in the definition of "renewable biomass" that limit the participation of private forestland owners.

 A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website at a later date.

Witness List:

Panel I

The Honorable Robert J Meyers, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

Ms. Jetta Wong, Agriculture and Energy Policy Analyst, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Arthur "Butch" Blazer, Forestry Division, New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Mr. John W. Burke III, Partner, McGuire Woods LLP, Richmond, Virginia

Mr. Duane Grant, Farmer, Rupert, Idaho

Dr. Kenneth G. Cassman, Director, Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, Lincoln, Nebraska

Dr. Marc E. McDill, Associate Professor of Forest Resource Management, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania