WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today said that the recently passed renewable fuels standard (RFS) may need changes in order to be effectively implemented.
At a committee hearing to discuss the market effect of the RFS, Domenici noted that RFS contained in the new law differed significantly from the version drafted in the Senate Energy Committee. The final RFS was inserted by the House of Representatives, and there was no conference committee process to work out differences with the Senate.
Today’s hearing featured representatives from the government agencies working on renewable fuels, as well as the biofuels industry. A number of specific areas within the new RFS were identified that could present obstacles to implementation of the new mandate.
“I think it is pretty obvious that either a lot of good administrative people will have to get together and resolve this in a way that would be extraordinary or we’ll have to end up changing things,” Domenici said.
“We’re here because the Chairman and staff think that there are some problems with implementing what we’ve done. So, I ask, is what is on the books going to work? Are we going to have to modify it to reach our goals? If we don’t know the answer, there will be excuses out there in the market as to why things don’t get done,” he continued.
Domenici identified a number of areas that may need attention, including very broad waiver authority given to the EPA Administrator, limits on what type of land can be used to cultivate crops, and definitions in the RFS which preclude materials from forest thinning to be used as biomass.
In addition, Domenici said he wants to ensure that the RFS is not weighted against new technologies, such as biocrude derived from algae. The current RFS is subdivided four ways, which leaves little room for new developments.
Domenici reiterated his belief that the Energy Independence and Security Act was a historic bill with important provisions. While the Senator supported biofuels provisions as a matter of policy, he has said the failure of a conference process made it impossible to improve upon House positions, leading to the issues discussed at today’s hearing.