Reps ask EPA about renewable fuel challenges

Four members of the House who want the renewable fuel standard (RFS) to be lowered wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ask what problems the agency has faced in writing regulations for the RFS.

The representatives asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Pruitt blames staff for controversies | Ex-Obama official to head new Harvard climate center | Electric vehicles on road expected to triple Ex-Obama EPA chief to lead new center for climate change at Harvard Overnight Energy: Pruitt’s security cost .5m in first year | Watchdog clears Perry's use of military, charter flights MORE on Monday whether the agency considers the effect that corn-based ethanol mandates have on food supplies, the infrastructure limitations of producing renewable fuels and the “blend wall” that limits the volume of renewable fuels refiners can put in their gasoline and diesel before the fuels are unusable.

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“Despite the best intentions, the RFS’s premise and structure were based on many assumptions that no longer reflect the current market conditions, and the imposition of the statutory volumes will cause further economic and environmental harm,” Reps. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Republicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe Trump vows to stand with House GOP '1,000 percent' on immigration MORE (R-Va.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackHouse GOP 2019 budget calls for deep Medicare, Medicaid spending cuts House panel to mark up 2019 budget Alan Greenspan: Notion that foreigners are ripping us off is 'nonsense' MORE (R-Ark.) and Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchMerkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry Lawmakers have sights on middlemen blamed for rising drug costs Dem letter calls for rolling back move targeting drug companies MORE (D-Vt.) wrote in the letter.

They also asked McCarthy why her agency frequently misses the Nov. 30 deadline to finalize renewable fuel levels for the coming year, a common frustration among fuel refiners.

In its proposal last year for the 2014 RFS mandate levels, the EPA sought to lower volumes from 2013. The members who wrote to McCarthy applauded that proposal and encouraged EPA to make it final.

But they also want to know why the EPA chose to take that path and why it didn’t propose lower limits in previous years, when most of the same challenges were also present.

Those representatives have also sponsored a bill to reform the RFS by eliminated corn-based ethanol requirements, capping the amount of ethanol that can go into gasoline and setting the cellulosic biofuel mandate at production levels.