Senator-elect James Lankford questions long-term viability of Renewable Fuel Standard

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative James Lankford (R-Oklahoma City), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements, on Wednesday (Dec. 10) chaired the Subcommittee’s second hearing to investigate Environmental Protection Agency’s implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The subcommittee heard from Janet McCabe, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator, office of Air and Radiation.

“We asked Ms. McCabe to come before the Subcommittee to continue our ongoing conversation with EPA about their delay of the RFS volumetric requirements on American refiners,” said Lankford.

“The EPA is now 375 days past due for issuing the 2014 mandate, 10 days late for issuing the 2015 requirements, and sees no end in sight to the delays. 

Administering the program in this way creates massive uncertainty for those following these regulations. Additionally, this uncertainty can lead to higher compliance costs and eventually higher consumer prices. Statutory deadlines were included in the program to prevent this type of volatility, yet EPA continues to blatantly ignore their obligations, admitting that ‘significant controversy’ in their original proposal led to this indefinite delay.” 

Just before Thanksgiving, EPA announced it would once again delay the volume of renewable fuels required to be blended into gasoline for 2014, which should have been determined by November 30, 2013.

According to EPA, their original proposal for the 2014 mandate “generated significant comment and controversy,” and “Due to the delay in finalizing the standards for 2014, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, the agency intends to take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015.”

Created in 2005 as a part of the Energy Policy Act, the RFS established the first renewable fuel volume mandate in the United States. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 required energy refiners to increase the amount of ethanol already required to blend into gasoline. The EISA outlined gradual increases in the additive mandate in the near future, which was based on the assumption Americans would consume more gasoline in the future, but they have not. The RFS requires American energy producers to refine 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022.

“Earlier this year, I introduced legislation that would repeal the corn ethanol mandate and require the remaining mandates within the RFS be fulfilled with domestic production and automatically waived when that supply does not meet the quantity required,” continued Lankford.

“Until we can accomplish a legislative solution, American gasoline refiners deserve clarity and transparency in this process.

“EPA has clearly failed to properly implement the RFS thus far, and the need for today’s hearing calls into question the long-term viability of the RFS itself. I will remain engaged with EPA on their plans to provide clarity to American refiners as swiftly as possible. However, I will also continue to assess ways to reduce or ultimately remove this unworkable regulation on not only American energy production but also American families paying at the pump,” concluded Lankford.

Administrator McCabe’s prepared statement is available online, here