The House Energy & Commerce Committee released a second white paper in its ongoing review of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the primary federal policy mandating the use of renewable fuels in the transportation sector. These white papers are being released in a bi-partisan manner as the committee of jurisdiction continues to review the effectiveness and value of the underlying program.

The topic of this second white paper is the impact of the RFS on the agricultural sector. Since its inception, the program's effect on corn, food and feed prices has been under intense scrutiny from supporters and detractors. The paper requests input regarding the program's impact on costs and prices of agricultural products, and on agricultural output and job creation. It also looks at the potential of cellulosic biofuels, a promising fuel source that has to date been slow to commercialize. In the coming years, the mandated volumes of cellulosic biofuel will increase significantly and successful commercialization of this technology will be important to the overall success of the RFS.

Given the significant ongoing debate on these topics, it is expected that this white paper will receive considerable input from stakeholders all along the renewable fuel value chain. RFS stakeholders are strongly encouraged to review the committee white paper and submit comments on the questions and topics raised. As mentioned in our previous alert, the House is expected to hold hearings on the matter later this year. The Senate has also expressed an interest in looking into the program.