The House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday kicked off two days of hearings on the Renewable Fuel Standard, inviting comment from stakeholders in the food and agriculture, renewable fuel and petroleum industries.
The hearing, titled "Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard: Stakeholder Perspectives," continues an assessment of the Renewable Fuel Standard started by a series of white papers and a June 26 subcommittee hearing regarding the RFS.
Because the last review of the RFS was completed in 2007, the committee said that many advancements have been made with renewable fuels and energy use has changed, thus the policies should be revisted.
"The end goal of this process is an RFS that works correctly and doesn't disrupt the markets," said Energy and Power subcommittee chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.
Those testifying in the hearing included: Jack Gerard, CEO, American Petroleum Institute; Charles Drevna, President, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers; Bob Dineen, CEO, Renewable Fuels Association; Michael McAdams, President, Advanced Biofuels Association; and Jeremy Martin, Senior Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists.
A host of other small engine and automobile groups also testified.
The Renewable Fuel Standard – a mandate on the amount of renewable fuels that must be produced in the U.S. – has seen its share of criticism from livestock and petroleum industries for its consumption of corn and other feedstuffs for fuel.
Questions about its effectiveness hit a fever-pitch during last summer's drought when state Governors petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to put a temporary hold on RFS mandates due to fears of low corn supplies.
But proponents of the policy say that the RFS will limit the petroleum industry in America, and offer a potential solution to fossil fuel dependence with a product that is renewable.
Regardless of position on the issue, some lawmakers maintain that whatever comes of the hearing, change is needed.
"In my view, the current system cannot stand," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. "I'm committed to ensuring that we deliver workable reform."
The hearing will continue Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. CDT with more discussion from a second panel of stakeholders on the impact on of the Renewable Fuel Standard specifically on the agricultural sector and food supply.
For the agriculture portion, stakeholders testifying include representatives from the National Chicken Council, the National Corn Growers Association, the Environmental Working Group and Purdue University Department of Economics.