House GOP push repeal of government ‘big thumb’ biofuel program

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Once the public understands the full repercussions of the program, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), “there will be an outrage that will demand action from Congress,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the chairman of the Republican group.

The lawmakers heard from industry representatives who argued that a continuation of the program, which is managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will result in higher prices at the pump and the grocery store.

“This goes right up the entire food chain,” said Goodlatte.

Critics of the RFS program have claimed that the EPA should use the authority that it has to waive the standard, since it is becoming unduly burdensome.

“The lack of flexibility on the part of EPA to waive a part or the entire mandate also is having real consequence on Americans from their dinner tab to their paycheck,” said John Burkel, the chairman of the National Turkey Federation, who said that the program was increasing the cost of corn and making it harder to feed his poultry.

Restaurant groups and food producers have long joined the oil and gas industry in opposing the standard.

“Unless we put an immediate end to this outdated, detrimental policy, the mandate could put consumers in harm's way and disrupt the nation's fuel supply," Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement.

The industry has argued that the refiners are hitting a “blend wall,” at which point the increased amount of biofuel in petroleum will be damaging to automobiles and unwanted by consumers.

Though the EPA has assured that the higher blends are perfectly safe, automobile companies have warned that using gas with a higher proportion of ethanol would void owners’ warranties.

Gas trade groups have predicted that the mandate could lead to fuel rationing and an increase in the price of gas. The cost of diesel, they warned, could rise by as much as 300 percent.