Statements and Speeches

Oversight: the Environmental Protection Agency's Renewable Fuel Standard

Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety

Apr 01 2009

In 2007, our nation was part of a booming global economy and a healthy capital market. 

We were in a global fight for oil – competing with other nations to keep our economy and our automobiles moving. 

We were consuming 21 million barrels of oil per day and importing 60 percent from overseas. Our demand was 25% of the world’s oil supply, but we only had 1.7% of the world’s oil reserves. 

All signs pointed to an increase in U.S. oil demands - it was clear we needed to start changing our driving habits and move us quicker away from traditional oil.  

To address some of these concerns, we passed a bipartisan energy bill in 2007 that reduced our dependence on foreign oil and reduced harmful emissions into our air.

In the bill, we amended the Clean Air Act to greatly enhance the Renewable Fuel Standard.

We required 9 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into our gasoline starting in 2008. 

This mandate ramps up to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

In the new Renewable Fuel Standard, we provide clear directions to the EPA to make sure environmental protections are included – such as reducing our carbon footprint and moving away from biofuel made from corn. 

We had hoped to slowly increase our levels of biofuels and increase our second generation of biofuels. 

?n two short years, we face a very different world. 

We face trying economic times that is impacting our way of life – including our fuel consumption and our investments in advanced fuels.

These economic challenges have created questions in the new Renewable Fuel Standard. Questions I hope we will start answering today. 

Gasoline consumption is down two billion gallons per day. 

As consumption decreases – our biofuel standard increases. Are we moving too fast for our infrastructure and engines to handle the biofuels safely?

The lack of capital has made it difficult to make the investments needed for a new second generation biofuel market. Will we be able to meet our advanced biofuel marks in a capital-starved world?

And EPA still has not proposed a rule on how to move forward on the environmental protections we put in place in 2007 – how is that impacting the market?

Hopefully, we can answer these questions and evaluate any unintended consequences of the renewable fuel provisions. 

But I believe biofuels done right, is a good thing. Biofuels gives an environmentally friendly option to move away from foreign fossil fuels.

I also believe the Renewable Fuels Standard must be implemented in a manner that positively impacts the environment and economy. 
And I believe this subcommittee must work together to make sure this happens.