Support for the expanded renewable fuels standard enacted in last December's energy bill got mixed reviews Tuesday from members of the House Committee of Energy and Commerce's subcommittee on energy and air quality. The subcommittee held a hearing on the issues, implementation and opportunities the expanded RFS brings and questioned Robert Meyers, Environmental Protection Agency principal deputy assistant administrator, as well as industry representatives from the petroleum, corn and ethanol industries.
Some committee members recognized the role ethanol has played in lowering gasoline supplies. "While $3.60 gasoline is bad, it could be worse," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. He added that corn-based ethanol and the recently passed energy bill drives development of biofuels from "feedstocks, not foodstocks." Other comments about the RFS were not as supportive, stating the mandate has "winners and losers."
Many members questioned Meyers about future steps the EPA plans to take regarding the RFS mandate waiver request sought by Texas Governor Rick Perry and others. Meyers said as part of the rule the agency has 90 days to approve or deny the request. Within those 90 days will be a time for a public comment period after publication in the Federal Register, which Meyers said the agency is "rapidly" trying to get published. Meyers said it was premature to comment about EPA's stance on the waiver until the public comment period was closed.