Subcommittee Discusses Multiple Motor Fuel Standards, Democrats Emphasize Importance of Clean Air

Nov 3, 2011
Subcommittee Discusses Multiple Motor Fuel Standards, Democrats Emphasize Importance of Clean Air

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing on motor fuel standards.  The Subcommittee examined past, current, and future motor fuel standards developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and state governments.  Members and witnesses discussed the Federal Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), the Tier 3 and Motor and Fuel Standards, and upstream greenhouse gas emissions standards for oil refiners.  One witness was also asked to testify on the EPA E15 waiver to allow the sale of E15 into commerce.

Ranking Member Brad Miller (D-NC) said, “Many of the standards are the result of complicated statutory procedures imposed by Congress, but procedures are designed to assure that everyone affected by a regulation will have a chance to be heard.  And all of the standards are intended to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, and to curb our dependence on foreign oil.”

Mr. Miller continued, “Our economy is largely built on access to cheap motor fuels, but there are obvious consequences of our dependence on those fuels.  Our transportation sector consumes 27 percent of the energy used in our country, and makes us very vulnerable to economic disruption from the interruption of our oil supply from some of the most unstable nations in the world.  And the use of motor fuels produces 1.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, annually polluting the environment with hazardous contaminants that can cause severe and chronic respiratory illnesses.”

Democratic Members expressed concern about the scope of the hearing.  Though there was a seven person witness panel, the wide range of standards and topics that were covered made it impossible for the Subcommittee to address any of the issues in details.

Mr. Miller said, “Industries not invited to testify today support various regulations, and have already invested greatly in the research and development to meet the standards.”

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) entered two letters and a white paper into the record from the automobile industry that supported EPA’s yet to be proposed sulfur reductions for gasoline.  Sulfur reduces the effectiveness of the emissions control system, specifically the catalytic convertor. 

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) entered one statement and two letters into the record which encourage and support EPA’s actions to propose Tier 3 motor and fuel standards.  These organizations note the significant impact reduced hazardous pollutants have on public health.

The witness for the Minority, Dr. Jay Kesan, Professor and H. Ross & Helen Workman Research Scholar and Program Leader of the Biofuel Law & Regulation Program at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois College of Law, testified that regulations spur innovation.  He said, “Uncertainty influences investment decisions regarding R&D activity…Removing some degree of uncertainty by creating several years of a mandatory demand regime makes it easier for biofuel producers to finance their R&D projects…The RFS encourages R&D activity in the industry by easing credit constraints…We are in an area of heavily constrained government funding.  Policy initiatives like the RFS mandates do not require government money.  Rather we are simply facilitating innovation and commercialization of new technologies by reducing some uncertainties by providing a guarantee of market demand.”