On Wednesday (Feb. 6), Mississippi Rep. Gregg Harper and Utah Rep. Jim Matheson introduced a billthat takes on the EPA biofuels production mandate. It will be referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.

The legislation, according to a Harper press release, “seeks to relieve businesses and consumers from an unattainable federal energy mandate.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required the nation's petroleum supply to contain a blend of more than 20 million gallons of renewable fuel additives, commonly referred to as cellulosic biofuel, since 2010.

“However, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service recently reported that cellulosic biofuel is not estimated to reach commercial volumes until at least 2015.

"’This legislation simply requires the EPA to rely on actual industry production instead of bureaucratic predictions,’said the lawmakers, who serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Noncompliance fines are issued to energy producers who fail to meet the EPA's fuel rules. Refiners may also purchase credits through the agency to avoid the fees.

"’The agency's current method for calculating these fuel standards leaves America's energy suppliers with two options: pay government penalties or buy government credits,’Harper added. ‘Either way, the cost is likely passed through to consumers who are already paying high gas prices.’

“Matheson continued, ‘To date, companies have paid millions of dollars to the EPA for a fuel that isn't commercially produced and those costs are being passed onto consumers in the form of higher gas prices. This is a common sense bill that requires the EPA to take into account actual production numbers and protects business and consumers from unrealistic goals resulting in higher costs.’

“A recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision knocked down the EPA's 2012 mandate, saying that the agency is not allowed ‘to let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divertit from a neutral methodology.’Even so, the EPA has moved forward with its 2013 numbers that increase last year's standards by an additional six million gallons.”

Fuels America, a biofuels advocacy group, almost immediately condemnedthe Harper/Mathesonas “anti-RFS legislation” that “is short-sighted and plays into the hands of oil companies looking to undermine the renewable fuel industry and deny Americans choice at the gas pump.

“This bill guarantees that there would never be an incentive to produce any more cellulosic renewable fuel than was made last year, hardly a recipe for spurring innovation and investment.

“What is really costing the American public is oil’s control over our fuel supply. That control creates huge profits for the industry, more than $118 billion in 2012 alone, with current gas prices the highest ever for early February.

“Faced with that fact, the real question is whether our country wants alternatives to oil, or not. This bill, and others like it, only ensure one thing: that our economy will continue to be held hostage by the global price of oil by preventing renewable fuel from getting to market.” 

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, another biofuels advocate, said the bill, “is bad policy, plain and simple. This is nothing more than a well-disguised end run around the RFS, attempting to eliminate the use of biofuels in the commercial marketplace. While supporters claim that this is fair and sensible legislation, all it is actually nothing but pandering to the wishes of the oil industry.

“At a time when record gas prices are being reported, we must continue to move forward with the development of sustainable and cleaner burning American fuels. Now is the time to continue innovation and development in the next generation biofuels instead of accepting the failed status quo of our dangerous addiction to foreign oil.

“The RFS has been the most successful energy policy enacted in the last forty years. It has created and supported over 400,000 jobs in America that cannot be outsourced, revitalized rural economies, improved our environment, all while providing consumers a choice and savings at the pump.”