Visit with congressmen begin API lame-duck session RFS reform push

The American Petroleum Institute’s current and incoming chairmen of its Downstream Committee met with the two main cosponsors of a US House of Representatives bill that would reform the Renewable Fuels Standard as the trade association launched its effort to repeal or dramatically reform the federal law’s quota and other requirements during the 114th Congress’s lame-duck session.

The committee’s current leader, Doug Sparkman, chief operating officer of British Petroleum Fuels, North America, and his designated successor, Don Templin, executive vice-president of Marathon Petroleum Corp., met on Nov. 15 with Reps. John Flores (R-Tex.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) who introduced HR 5180 last spring (OGJ Online, May 12, 2016).

“We’re in Washington to talk with people about the RFS,” Sparkman told OGJ by telephone after the meetings. “We’re continuing to push the Flores-Welch legislation, which now has more than 100 cosponsors. We’re trying to continue the momentum and also to remind them in this time of transition that it’s still a priority.”

“Rep. Flores and Welch say they’re getting excellent support to move this legislation along,” added Templin, who also participated in the call. “Whenever it happens we want them to know that the downstream is united in supporting this legislation to remove this mandate which is causing so many problems. These mandates also affect their constituents’ food supplies because of all the corn that’s being used to make ethanol.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency was scheduled to announce 2017 renewable fuel quotas under the law during November, but had not done so as of Nov. 16.

“At a minimum, EPA should use its waiver authority under the RFS to adjust its 2017 ethanol mandate down from levels that were written into law by Congress nearly a decade ago,” API Group Director Frank Macchiarola told reporters in a Nov. 16 teleconference. “We are pleased that [it] has proposed to do so for the second consecutive year, and we hope they carry through with this and go further in the final rule.”

Macchiarola said the EPA also must make certain that an adequate supply of ethanol-free gasoline is available for consumers who want it. “That’s what many small engine owners gearing up to use their leaf blowers and snow blowers this fall prefer,” he said.

“The voices sounding off on the burdensome ethanol mandate are getting louder,” he said. “From recreational boaters and motorcyclists to environmental groups and food groups, an ever-increasing number of Americans are urging policymakers to fix the broken RFS mandate.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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