House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Advanced Biofuels

Travel center and fuel retailing executive testifies and shares insights on advanced biofuels and the RFS.
June 28, 2018

WASHINGTON – Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on “Advanced Biofuels Under the Renewable Fuel Standard [RFS]: Current Status and Future Prospects” to review the advanced biofuels program under the RFS and determine how it works in the marketplace.

Robin Puthusseril, vice president and co-owner of Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza, testified at the hearing on behalf of NATSO. Puthusseril told the House subcommittee that the RFS program has been successful in providing travel centers incentives to incorporate advanced biofuels into their fuel supplies, and in allowing retailers to offer consumers biofuel blends at lower prices than purely petroleum-based products.

However, Puthusseril warned that the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) practice of exempting certain refiners from their renewable fuels obligations undermines the law’s intent and decreases demand for biofuels. In addition, she explained that EPA’s recent practice of granting an unprecedented number of retroactive hardship exemptions to refineries has functioned as de facto mandate cuts in the biofuel volume obligations. Retroactively issued waivers create market uncertainty, she said, ultimately diminishing the value of the biodiesel investments that the U.S. Congress encouraged fuel retailers to make when it developed the RFS. 

“It is imperative that EPA immediately reevaluate its criteria for issuing the small refinery waivers,” Puthusseril said in her testimony. “Going forward, I would hope that EPA act in a manner that is more consistent with the RFS by requiring [that] all waiver requests be received and assessed prior to finalizing biofuel mandates for a given compliance year.”

Other witnesses who testified at the hearing include Brooke Coleman, executive director, Advanced Biofuels Business Council; Randy Howard, CEO, Renewable Energy Group, on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board; Mike McAdams, president, Advanced Biofuels Association; Derrick Morgan, senior vice president, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers; Luke Morrow, managing director, Morrow Energy, on behalf of the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas; and Collin O’Mara, president, National Wildlife Federation.

This was one in a series of hearings the subcommittee is holding to evaluate the RFS program.