House subcommittee holds hearing on advanced biofuels, RFS

By Erin Voegele | June 22, 2018

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing June 22 titled “Advanced Biofuels Under the Renewable Fuel Standard: Current Status and Future Prospects,” that included discussions of post-2022 RFS policy, the EPA’s misuse of RFS waivers, the potential for an octane fuel standard.

The event featured testimony from Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council; Randy Howard, CEO of the Renewable Energy Group, who spoke on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board; Mike McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association; Derrick Morgan, senior vice president of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers; Luke Morrow, managing director of Morrow Energy, who spoke on behalf of the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas; Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation; and Robin Puthusseril, vice president of Greater Chicago Truck Plaza, who spoke on behalf of the National Association of Truck Stop Operators.

Coleman’s testimony focused primarily on how to generate growth in the advanced and cellulosic biofuels sectors, arguing policy-makers should stay the course on the RFS.

In his testimony, McAdams called for lawmakers to update and reform the RFS and provided a list of 21 specific reforms his organization would like to see implemented under the RFS program.

Morrow discussed the success of biogas-based cellulosic biofuels and stressed that policy certainty is vital to the continued growth of the renewable natural gas (RNG) industry.

During the hearing, Committee Chairman John Shimkus, R-Ill., asked the panelists what their main concerns are regarding the future of the RFS and how those concerns could be addressed.

McAdams called for a reform bill that would offer clarity not only before 2022, but after 2022 as well. “The reason that I say that is because so many of the current provisions in the statute and the current regs are so ambiguous that EPA doesn’t have the ability to make the calls they need to make,” he said, noting that the U.S. has lost out on the construction of at least two advanced biofuel plants because the agency couldn’t make the calls it needed to on feedstock eligibility. McAdams also noted that other biofuel representatives on the panel, however, do not agree that the RFS should be reformed.

Howard told the committee the NBB would like to see updates in transparency and consistent long-term growth that is clear for biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Morrow spoke about the need for certainty, noting that the RNG industry is currently making massive investments and needs regulatory certainty in order to continue to grow.

Regarding the potential for a high octane standard, McAdams spoke about the need to leave enough flexibility to allow for renewable drop-in fuels, while Morgan said the groups he represents sees potential in a 95 octane specification in exchange for a sunset of the RFS.

Full copies of the panelists’ written testimony and a video replay of the full 1.5 hour hearing can be downloaded from the committee’s website