Wednesday, July 11, 2012

House Hearing On Alternative Fuels & Vehicles

Jul 10: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing entitled, "The American Energy Initiative: A Focus on Alternative Fuels and Vehicles, Both the Challenges and the Opportunities." Witnesses included representatives from the: Cumberland Gulf Group; American Petroleum Institute; Renewable Fuels Association; American Tradition Institute; Advanced Biofuels Association; Truman National Security Project; National Research Center for Coal and Energy, West Virginia University; National Wildlife Federation; Methanol Institute; Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; Flex Fuel US; America's Natural Gas Alliance; and Johnson Controls Inc. Much of the hearing dealt with the pros and cons of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that requires 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into transportation fuel by 2022.
   In an opening statement from Representative John Sullivan (R-OK) said, "Gasoline and diesel fuel currently dominate the transportation sector, and that is not likely to change any time soon. For that reason, we need to take steps to ensure plentiful and affordable supplies of petroleum and the fuels that are made from it. That means expanding domestic oil production, approving the Keystone XL pipeline to allow more Canadian oil to come into the country, and reviewing the red tape that raises the cost of refining crude into gasoline and diesel fuel. That is why I strongly supported measures like the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, and why I will continue to fight for a commonsense, pro-consumer, pro-jobs, and pro-energy policy.

    "But in addition, we need to look at options other than petroleum derived fuels, and indeed we are doing so. We are well into implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard created in the 2005 energy bill and expanded in the 2007 bill. The RFS has achieved some successes such as increased ethanol production. However, some also see shortcomings with the RFS that may need to be addressed. Even beyond ethanol and other biofuels, there are many other alternative fuels and vehicles, including natural gas, electricity, coal-to-liquids, methanol, and flex-fuel vehicles. Each offers its own unique mix of advantages as well as disadvantages, and all offer the benefits of diversification."
    Full Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) said in an opening statement highlighted the benefits from the Administration's finalized and proposed fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards saying they "will save 2.2 million barrels of oil a day by 2025" and "reduce our carbon pollution by over 6 billion metric tons." But, he said, ". . .we have more work to do. American families are still getting whipsawed when gasoline prices unexpectedly spike. The money we spend on oil abroad continues to conflict with our foreign policy goals and national security."
    Rep. Waxman also discussed recent extreme weather events and said, "We cannot afford to ignore climate change in the development of our energy policies. The two are inextricably linked." He concluded, "We need to continue our push towards alternative fueled vehicles, whether they are plug-in electric drive commuter vehicles, long-haul natural gas trucks, or renewable fuels. The Obama Administration has made real progress on a seemingly intractable problem. We're finally heading in the right direction."
    American Petroleum Institute (API) testified that it "supports the continued, appropriate use of ethanol, biodiesel, and other biofuels as blending components in transportation fuels" but said, "EPA has allowed the RFS law's volume requirements to drive decisions that are inappropriate and unwise. The law has become increasingly unrealistic, unworkable, and a threat to consumers. It needs an overhaul, especially with respect to the volume requirements." On the E15 waiver API said, "E15 is a different transportation fuel, well outside the range for which the vast majority of U.S. vehicles and engines have been designed and warranted."
    The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) praised the RFS and said, "One important alternative fuel -- ethanol -- is already helping to address these national concerns. America's ethanol industry -- buttressed by a visionary Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) -- is already decreasing our reliance on foreign oil, already exerting downward pressure on gasoline prices, already employing tens of thousands of American workers, and already cleaning up our air. As a result of the forward-looking nature of the RFS, the industry is poised to make even more significant contributions to our nation's economic and environmental security in the future."
    National Wildlife Federation (NWF) testified extensively on extreme weather events and said, "Carbon pollution is changing our climate; and our changing climate is contributing to extreme weather; and in order to slow down this devastating trend, we need to dramatically cut carbon pollution. . . Corn ethanol has shown what is possible, but it is not the long term answer to our nation's energy needs. We need more support to get us to the next generation of biofuels from non-food, perennial crops and wastes, that create significant greenhouse gas reductions and not lead to other major environmental problems. New fuel economy standards are essential. . ."
    Access the Republican website for the hearing with statements, testimony and a webcast (click here). Access the Democratic website for the hearing with statements, testimony and a webcast (click here). [#Energy/RFS, #Energy/CAFO]