Latching onto a common complaint of biofuel backers, Stabenow hammered oil companies’ intransigence and unwillingness to ease the move of alternative fuels into gas stations. “I often think what a crazy situation we’re in. We’re trying to create more competition so prices will go down at the pump for consumers. Yet, the folks that don’t want the competition control the pumps.”

Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council, said Stabenow, “hit the nail on the head: the oil companies do control the pumps. So, there’s a situation where there’s no competition without policy.

“The RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard) is actually designed to push higher renewable fuel blends into the marketplace. One of the things that’s happened is the EPA has decided that what happened (in 2013, when biofuel production targets fell short) is a bad thing so they’re dialing the program back. In fact, what happened last year was the oil industry refused to comply with the program and (biofuel credit) prices went up. Independents were just getting into the game and were going to grease the skids to comply with the program.

“So, the program was actually working as designed. If EPA sees that, reacts to it and decides to make changes, to convert an ‘obligated’ party to a ‘non-obligated’ party, the investors will see that and run away. That’s the situation we face.”

And the EPA plan “unfortunately makes things worse,” testified Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director for Biorefineries, DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “The real problem here is that the EPA has used a method of logic to restrict or limit the RVOs (Renewable Volume Obligations, the targets for each refiner or importer of petroleum-based gasoline or diesel fuel) on the basis of the supply chain, which the incumbent industry controls.

“That’s more devastating than any other aspect of their proposals. This would really put biofuels in a downward movement. It would slow down and stop the positive impact (biofuels) have had on agriculture and the energy prices by lowering the demand for oil.

“Also, immediately, it would have an increase on greenhouse gas emissions, which would increase.

“There’s really no blend-wall -- I call it the ‘blend step.’ The technology to go beyond E-10 is there. There are numerous options.”