Today, the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research held a hearing to review the Renewable Fuel Standard implementation and agriculture producer eligibility. Congressman Tim Holden of Pennsylvania chairs the subcommittee.

"As our economy diversifies its energy supply, it is critical we take advantage of all potential sources of renewable biomass," Holden said. "Unfortunately, the RFS contains some restrictions that could delay and threaten meeting the aggressive targets for cellulosic ethanol in the RFS and hold us back from achieving energy independence. I hope this hearing serves as a learning opportunity, and leads to a change in law that will benefit all regions and decrease our dependence on foreign oil."

Subcommittee Ranking Member Frank Lucas of Oklahoma emphasized his efforts during the farm bill development to  craft an Energy Title that would help provide new markets for U.S. agriculture crops and enhance the rural economic development. He points to advance biofuels development as a significant step in that direction."By placing more emphasis on research and development of advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic biofuels, we will be able
to diversify the production of biofuels, which will alleviate the pressure placed on agricultural supply and the price concerns associated with corn ethanol, and will assist growth of rural economies," said Lucas. 

Congress expanded the RFS last December in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The new RFS increases the use requirement to 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2022, of which only 15 billion gallons can be ethanol from corn. The remaining 21 billion gallons must come from "advanced biofuels," meaning those made from non-starch feedstocks.

The subcommittee heard from government officials, researchers and producers who provided an update on the implementation process and shared concerns on barriers to eligibility for many agricultural producers. The law contains restrictions in the definition of "renewable biomass" that limit the participation of private forestland owners. 

View the opening statements of all witnesses.

Source: U.S. House of Representatives