RFS Needs Legislative Reform

A group of 32 food industry organizations sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee January 27 saying that the renewable fuel standard is unworkable and needs legislative reformation. The group urged Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) to pursue legislation to reform the standard after the committee conducted an extensive white paper process last year to assess the mandate’s effectiveness.

RFS 2014 Level Reconsideration Urged

Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) sent a letter January 28 to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, calling on her to reconsider the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard 2014 biofuels reduction in order to ensure continued growth and investment in the industry. The group contends that the economic and environmental benefits of advanced biofuels must be taken into account when finalizing the standards.

EPA GHG Regs Legislation Advances

The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced the Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826) January 28. The measure, sponsored by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY), would restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to complete greenhouse gas emission regulations for new and existing power plants until carbon capture and storage technologies are further demonstrated at six power plants for at least a year. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has introduced companion legislation (S. 1905), but the bill faces an uphill battle in the upper chamber.

House Efficiency Measure Advances

The House and Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation (H.R. 2126) January 28 to promote energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced the Better Buildings Act to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a Tenant Star program resembling the existing Energy Star appliance labeling program.

Support for Critical Minerals Legislation

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing January 28, auto and semiconductor manufacturers and state mining authorities urged senators to pass the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 (S. 1600). The measure, from Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), aims to make the United States more self-sufficient with regard to mining and producing critical minerals.

Senate Republican EPA Opposition Continues

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said January 29 that he will introduce legislation within a couple of weeks that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to disclose the impact of current regulations on job creation and the economy. The bill will be similar to an amendment (S.A. 2615) Senator Inhofe offered to the Senate’s unemployment insurance extension bill.

Power Plant Regs Reconsideration Urged

Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) led 20 of their colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama January 30 asking him to reconsider the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants. They specifically pointed to the potential burden ratepayers will face as a result of the potential regulations. More than 70 trade and business groups formed the Partnership for a Better Energy Future the same day to ensure that the standards do not cause economic harm.

Legislation Introduced

  • Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation (S. 1971) January 29 to establish an interagency coordination committee or subcommittee with the leadership of the Departments of Energy and Interior to focus on the nexus between energy and water production, use, and efficiency.
  • The same day, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the America INNOVATES Act (S. 1973) to improve management of the National Laboratories, enhance technology commercialization, and facilitate public-private partnerships.
  • Representatives Sam Graves (R-MO) and Lee Terry (R-NE) introduced legislation (H.R.3937) January 29 to evaluate and report on the feasibility and effectiveness of using natural gas as a fuel source in long haul trucks; legislation (H.R. 2928) to direct the Transportation Secretary to designate natural gas fueling corridors in the United States for long haul truck traffic; and legislation (H.R. 3940) to amend title 23 with respect to weight limitations for natural gas vehicles.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an oversight hearing on “Energy in America” February 5. Witnesses will discuss the impact of Bureau of Land Management policies on energy production