Posted By Marc Morano – 12:06 PM ET – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov  

Calls For Congressional Action on Biofuel Mandate Growing

Hearings, Legislation, Waivers All on the Table 

Momentum appears to be growing on Capitol Hill this week to revisit the increased ethanol mandate signed into law last December.  Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, delivered a floor speech on April 29, adding momentum to spur action on Capitol Hill to revisit the current corn ethanol mandates.  

Senator Inhofe specifically called for Environment Protection Agency to exercise its waiver authority regarding the biofuel mandate and called on Congress to revisit the current mandates. Senator Inhofe also called on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to hold hearings on the renewable fuel standard (RFS).



New Developments:  

Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a longtime supporter of biofuels, said Inhofe's proposal was one worth considering. ‘I believe biofuels have a great future,’ Durbin said. ‘But we have to look at it honestly, what is the current impact and what do we have to do, if anything, to address any changes,’” Greenwire reported in an April 30 article on the reaction to Sen. Inhofe’s speech.

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) also reacted to Inhofe’s speech by saying he was open to the idea of revisiting the mandates. “We don’t know how much of the food crisis was caused by [mandates], but nobody expected it to cause much,” Domenici told The Hill on April 30.  

During his speech, Inhofe announced he was working with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) to urge EPA to examine this issue.   

The Hill newspaper, in an article titled “Doubts grow over ethanol,” reported this week that “sharply rising food prices may force Congress to reconsider the fivefold increase in ethanol production it mandated just four months ago, some lawmakers say.”  The article by Jim Snyder and Manu Raju quoted Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM), stating “I think [the biofuel mandate is] something we need to look at.”  The Hill article continued: “When asked if he would be willing to change the mandate if it is found to have driven up food prices, Bingaman said: ‘Depending on what was concluded, I’m open to anything.’”  

On May 1, Cybercast News Service reported: “Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told Cybercast News Service on Wednesday that they believe there is a connection between federally mandated consumption of ethanol, a gasoline additive made from corn, and world food shortages.” Kennedy said, "I think very definitely there is a clear connection between our ethanol use and world hunger."

Investor’s Business Daily reported on Wednesday that “Even farm-state Democrats worry about the unintended consequences of putting corn in our cars.”  

The headline in an article in the New York Sun on Wednesday read New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer “Sets a Hearing on the Global Food Crisis.”  

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also called for revisiting ethanol policies in the farm bill this week.

Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R) announced this week that he was co-signing a bill with Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake (R) to modify current ethanol policy.

Call to Action 

Senator Inhofe laid out the problems with our current biofuel mandates during his April 29 floor speech.  

“We are in the midst of global food difficulties brought on by decades of misguided environment and energy policies. As worldwide food availability decreases and prices continue to skyrocket, decades of ill-conceived planning by politicians and bureaucrats afraid of expanding our energy supplies are now bearing an ugly fruit. American families and the international community continue to suffer from these misguided policies; Washington must take the first steps to begin addressing these problems,” Inhofe said.  

“I call on Congress to revisit the recently enacted biofuel mandate. Congress must have the courage to address this issue and address it now. Second, the EPA must exercise its congressionally-given authority to waive all or portions of these food-to-fuel mandates as part of its rule-making process. The EPA must thoroughly review all options to alleviate the food and fuel disruption of the 2007 Energy Bill biofuel mandates.   “Washington must act now.”  

To read Senator Inhofe’s full floor speech see here 

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