Competing ethanol research at an exhibition at a Senate hearing

Proponents and critics of the renewable fuel standard debated on Wednesday over whether RFS ethanol blending requirements help boost gasoline prices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at Senate hearings.

Both senators and witnesses at the hearings of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works took turns to refer to studies that supported their positions, including one just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences As it was found between 2008 and 2016, “the carbon content of corn ethanol produced under the RFS is not less than that of gasoline, and probably at least 24% higher.”

President and CEO of Growth Energy Emily Score called study “Untied from reality”, claiming that he relied on “unorthodox methodology”. On Monday, Scor criticized the study online, saying: “As has been repeatedly shown, there is simply no evidence that RFS increases life-cycle GHG emissions compared to gasoline.”

On the other side was Lee Ann Johnson Koch, a partner at Perkins Coie, which represents small refineries. While she sided with Skora and other witnesses in the desire for lower-emission biofuels, Koch said “we are moving away from the question of whether ethanol is actually a lower-emission fuel” and cites a PNAS study .

Koch also blew up the Environmental Protection Agency proposing to reject requests to abandon more than 60 small refineries.

“Small refineries have been blinded by EPA’s retrospective offer to reject RFS waivers,” she added, arguing that small refiners simply lack ethanol or enough available renewable IDs – credits to meet the mandate. for previous years.

“I just want to be clear when we talk about 2019, 2020 and 2021, when the EPA proposed to refuse to alleviate the difficulties, not a single drop of renewable fuel should be mixed,” Koch said, adding that the EPA’s proposed refusal did not refer to required by law to consult with the Ministry of Energy and [DOE’s] the conclusion is that if the EPA acts as they suggest, small refineries will be in danger of shutting down and going bankrupt. “

“If the EPA publishes its proposed waiver, RIN-owned parties that small refineries need to maintain will be able to demand exorbitant prices because small refineries will become involuntary buyers ahead of schedule,” she said.

Scor, however, said the SRE’s proposed solution “will strengthen the RFS program, reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and support renewable biofuels grown in America.” She also said that “the EPA has consistently found that obligated parties – large and small – do not face disproportionate economic difficulties due to RFS compliance.”

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Republican Senators Cynthia Lamis of Wyoming and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, a ranking member of the committee, also criticized the SRE’s proposal, saying small refineries could not compete with large integrated oil companies, threatening jobs in the countryside.

But Iowa Republican Sen. Johnny Ernst lamented the positive impact of the RFS on rural areas, saying “the biofuels industry accounts for more than $ 5 billion in GDP, generates $ 2.6 billion in household income and supports nearly 46,000 jobs alone. Iowa.

“In my countryside, ethanol is also the cheapest fuel for consumers now at about 50 cents. And, of course, with record high inflation, it only makes sense to make this source of fuel more affordable. ”

Responding to allegations that RFS blending requirements raise the price of gasoline, Scor said: “The dominant factor driving the price of fuel for consumers at the pump is the price of crude oil, in addition to supply and demand.”

The price of oil has more than doubled from its price of $ 40 a barrel in late 2020, Ernst said.

Another witness President of the Energy Policy Research Foundation Luciano Pugliaresi agreed that the price of crude oil increases gas prices, but “there are other components in the production of transport fuel.” He called on the Energy Information Administration to study the issue so that both sides in the RFS debate could have the same data.

“We have to try to do better to get a common set of facts,” Pugliaresi said.

Senator Kevin Kramer, RN.D., said the debate around the RFS has continued since his arrival in Congress. “This is not a topic that confuses me as much as the debate,” he said. “It never changes.”

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