Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

David Lungren (202) 224-5642

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Full Committee hearing entitled, "Oversight Hearing on Domestic Renewable Fuels: From Ethanol to Advanced Biofuels."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 10:00 am


Link to Inhofe EPW Webpage: Providing Responsible Oversight of Federal Ethanol Policy

I'd first like to thank the Chairman for holding this timely hearing. I'm working on introducing a simple bill that responds to the increasing call for more consumer choice to purchase ethanol-free gasoline.  Simply put, my bill is a compromise that allows a State to opt out of the corn ethanol portions of the renewable fuel standard - if you want to use ethanol you can use it.

To opt out, a State must pass a bill, signed by the governor, stating its choice.  The opt-out would be recognized by the Administrator of the EPA, who would then reduce the amount of the national corn ethanol mandate by the percentage amount approved by the State in question. 

This legislation would allow a State to opt-out of only the corn ethanol mandate.  It would not affect other portions of the renewable fuel standard, such as the cellulosic or advanced biofuels volumetric requirements.   

With the passage of the 2007 energy bill, I believe Congress blundered in pushing too much corn ethanol too fast.  Ethanol has serious problems, including its compatibility with existing engines, its environmental sustainability, as well as its transportation and infrastructure needs.  These problems have galvanized an unusual coalition against corn-based ethanol.  Opponents range from Friends of the Earth and the Environmental Working Group to the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. 

This overly aggressive ethanol mandate has also led to a particularly pronounced consumer backlash in my home state of Oklahoma, where one convenience store chain experienced a 30 percent drop in fuel sales once they began selling fuel blended at E-10 levels. 

Despite the drawbacks of today's corn-based ethanol mandates, I do support a role for ethanol and other biofuels.  The idea that we can grow and produce biofuels all over the country - not just in the Midwest - is something worth pursuing - and that's why I support research into a variety of advanced feedstocks and alternatives such as algae, bio-butanol, cellulosic, natural gas, and other options.

I believe America's energy supply should be stable, clean, diverse, and affordable. Continued development of home-grown biofuels translates into energy security and creates jobs and economic growth in America.

On that note, I look forward to working with each of you to explore the unintended consequences of this mandate and how we can improve the Renewable Fuel Standard.