Former Obama adviser suggests changes to ethanol mandate

Getty Images

A former economic adviser to President Obama is calling for changes to the 10-year-old renewable fuel mandate.

ADVERTISEMENT
Harvard University professor Jim Stock has published a report pitching several changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), The Wall Street Journal reports.

Stock was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers in 2013 and 2014. His report comes at a time of growing angst among lawmakers, regulators and the industry over the future of the RFS, which mandates fuel refiners blend a certain volume of ethanol and biodiesel into their traditional gasoline and diesel supplies.

Stock suggests a handful of reforms, including calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to issue blending standards every four years rather than annually. The EPA still hasn't issued its blending mandate for 2014, and has delayed released its 2015 standards. Both are due — along with 2016's standards — by Nov. 30 under a legal settlement announced last week.

Congress expanded the RFS in 2007, and even though Stock's report says the mandate is partially responsible for a doubling in the volume of renewables in the surface transportation fuel supply since then, the RFS has become a punching bag for both the fuel industry and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Bipartisan groups of lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced bills to repeal the mandate, something the gasoline industry supports. The ethanol industry has pushed back, hiring a pair of big-name lobbyists earlier this year to defend the mandate.