Corker-Manchin bill aims to correct unintended RFS subsidy

US Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced legislation on May 16 aimed at correcting what they said was unintentional subsidization of foreign ethanol imports under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard.

They said the Foreign Fuels Reduction Act is necessary because EPA has revised the RFS’s cellulosic biofuels volume requirement down to US commercially produced levels, but has not used its authority to also reduce advanced biofuels and total renewable fuels requirements.

This has created a gap in advanced biofuels production that has provided an incentive to import biofuels, further complicated the “blend wall” issue, and intensified the debate over biofuels land use issues domestically and internationally—all of which are contrary to RFS’s original intent, the lawmakers indicated.

They said their bill would end imports of sugar cane ethanol from Brazil, which EPA allows, to meet an increasing portion of the RFS mandates; more properly align ethanol supplies with demand to mitigate blend wall impacts; and soften RFS’s harmful effects on land use and commodity prices internationally.

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, which wants Congress to fully repeal the RFS, said the proposed bill highlights one of the policy’s many problems: “When the RFS was enacted in 2007, Congress never envisioned that cellulosic biofuels would not exist and that more than 90%, as much as 75 billion gal, of the advanced biofuels quota would have to be fulfilled by imports and biodiesel,” AFPM Pres. Charles T. Drevna said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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