WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 - An EPA official refused Wednesday to tell lawmakers when the agency would finally release this year’s biofuel usage targets.
Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that the agency continues to wrestle with its legal authority for lowering the mandate for corn ethanol to keep it in line with the market limitations.
EPA recently said the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard wouldn’t be finalized until next year, and panel members unsuccessfully pressed McCabe to provide a deadline for issuing the final numbers.
A frustrated Democratic panel member, Jackie Speier of California, called McCabe’s response “gibberish.” “What is your goal?” Speier pressed. “Is it April? Is it May? You’ve got to have a goal that we can hang our hats on.”
Speier suggested introducing an RFS repeal bill as a way to get EPA to finalize the 2014 rule.
McCabe noted that the agency plans to issue targets for 2015 and 2016 next year as well as to finalize the 2014 RFS. That will “get the program back on track so that refiners and all other stakeholders will have the certainty that the statute calls for.”
McCabe denied the agency was afraid of lawsuits, but at another point noted that the EPA’s reasoning for reducing the biofuel targets was already being questioned. The agency is using its authority to reduce the planned targets on the basis that here is an inadequate domestic supply of the biofuel. The ethanol industry says that it would be an improper use of the law.
“We certainly want to make sure that we are confident in our legal authority when we render a rule. If we are challenged on it … and it’s overturned, that is further uncertainty for the market.
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