Bill would exclude indirect land-use from RFS2

By Erin Voegele
Posted May 20, 2009, at 8:35 a.m. CST

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Ranking Member Frank Lucas, R-Okla., along with a bipartisan group of 42 members of Congress recently introduced legislation that seeks to alter certain provisions of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The legislation, titled the Renewable Fuel Standard Improvement Act (H.R. 2409), would eliminate the requirement that the U.S. EPA consider indirect land use when calculating the greenhouse gas emissions associated with advanced biofuels. It also strikes the restrictive definition of renewable biomass that was included in the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007, and replaces it with the definition included in the 2008 Farm Bill. According to the House Agriculture Committee, the Farm Bill definition of renewable biomass was developed in consultation with appropriate federal agencies and other congressional committees and was discussed and debated in a transparent manner, unlike the EISA definition, which was never openly discussed or debated in Congress.

"The unreasonable restrictions placed on the biofuels industry in the 2007 Energy Bill were never debated by Congress, and I've spent the past two years trying to undo the damage that we're seeing now that EPA has published the proposed regulations that will make it impossible to meet the RFS," Peterson said. "In order to ensure that a clean, homegrown biofuels industry will succeed in the United States, we need to have federal energy policies are flexible, practical and innovative."

"Mr. Peterson's bill is a legislative response to poorly crafted EPA regulation," Lucas said. "The most important provision in the bill is the expansion of the acreage eligible to produce biomass feedstock. This will ease pressure on the current corn production system and it will open the way for more rapid development of next generation ethanol."

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis recently released a statement in support of the bill. "I commend Chairman Peterson, ranking member Lucas and the bipartisan coalition of 42 members for their far-reaching vision of an America powered by homegrown renewable fuels," Buis said. "Growth Energy strongly believes in the promise of ethanol and other renewable fuels to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil." Buis also said that last-minute provisions inserted into EISA threaten to derail the progress made by the biofuels industry. "The law requires EPA to measure indirect land-use changes in other countries, where we have no control over what they produce or the amount they produce on their farms," he continued. "To proceed with this flawed concept would have a devastating impact on our nation's move to produce home-grown, green fuel right here in America."

The Renewable Fuel Standard Improvement Act was introduced May 14, and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.