Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) today sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the agency's recently released 2013 mandate for cellulosic ethanol. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the EPA's 2012 projection of cellulosic biofuel production as unrealistic and "in excess of the agency's statutory authority."
"Despite a very clear rebuke by the D.C. Court, EPA doubled down on a runaway political agenda to impose unrealistic RFS standards. The agency has been mandating that refiners buy a commercially unavailable fuel and then fining them for not using it. These fines get passed on to consumers with higher prices at the pump. EPA needs to explain how the absurd 2013 projection is reasonable and within the agency's authority."
Read the letter Congressman Sensenbrenner sent to EPA here.
EPA's 2013 mandate requires refiners to purchase 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel or pay a penalty. However, there is limited availability of the fuel, and certainly nothing remotely near the EPA mandate. In fact, prior to 2012, there were zero gallons of this fuel commercially produced.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 set ambitious standards for cellulosic biofuel production as a part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). When Congress proposed these aggressive goals, cellulosic biofuel was still a theoretical fuel. Therefore, it empowered EPA with the authority to reduce the mandate to commercially realistic levels should actual production fall short of the congressional mandate. Since 2010, the EPA has set unrealistic mandates for cellulosic biofuels. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2012 mandate, 8.7 million gallons, was "an unreasonable exercise of agency discretion," and rejected that requirement.
Last Congress, Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced legislation to limit the EPA's ability to mandate that refiners blend more cellulosic biofuel than is actually available.