Think tank proposes 40 options to change ethanol mandate

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) published a report outlining 40 different options that it said could improve the country’s ethanol mandate.

The BPC said it set out to find a “middle ground” for reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), acknowledging that advocates on both sides of the issue have pushed for complete repeal of the law or for no changes at all.

It convened an advisory group of stakeholders to describe various options, resulting in the Tuesday report.

“Given the technical complexity and political intensity of the RFS debate, BPC decided to craft a set of detailed policy options rather than propose a single package of improvements,” BPC president Jason Grumet said in a statement.

“Once key interests and experts have a chance to grapple with these ideas, BPC will work to propose an effective path forward for the RFS.”

The group said the options do not shot a consensus among stakeholders in the group, but “they are intended as a first step in exploring the ways in which constructive reforms could create a more robust and effective RFS program.”

The standard, first passed by Congress in 2004 and expanded in 2007, requires that fuel refiners mix an increasing volume of ethanol and biodiesel into their gasoline and diesel.

Its opponents have raised concerns about its costs, effects on food supplies, environmental impact, harm to engines and other problems. But supporters argue that it is an environmentally friendly way to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The BPC’s recommendations include new ways to bring fuel options into the program, changing the way credits for renewable production are managed, better accounting for land use and environmental impact and reducing the mandate’s ceiling, among other ideas.

The BPC said it hopes to use the recommendations as a framework for various events and discussions in the coming year on changing the RFS.