Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) today introduced legislation to limit the EPA's ability to mandate that refiners blend more cellulosic biofuel than is actually available.
This bill (text here) will require the EPA to set the mandate for cellulosic biofuel, in part, based on evidence of how much cellulosic biofuel was available the previous year.
"If EPA cannot base their mandate on realistic projections, Congress should act to protect Americans from the agency's phantom fuel fine," Sensenbrenner said. "When EPA fines refiners millions of dollars for failing to use a nonexistent fuel, consumers will end up paying more at the pump. We want our energy policy to encourage innovation and energy security, but the EPA's unreasonable approach defies common sense and manipulates the law's intent."
"The D.C. Court vacated the EPA's 2012 projection as unrealistic and an abuse of the agency's power. What did EPA do? They nearly doubled the 2013 mandate for a fuel that is still commercially unavailable. The EPA is on a runaway political agenda, and the purpose of my bill is to rein in the agency to enforce the law, not an ideology or wishful thinking."
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.