On Tuesday, April 8, Senate Committee on Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow(D-M) will convene a hearing entitled  “Advanced Biofuels, Creating Jobs and Lower Prices at the Pump” to examine the role “domestically-produced, non-food-based biofuels are playing in creating jobs and strengthening the rural economy,” according to the hearing announcement.

Second-generation renewable fuels, made from grass, wood and other nonfood materials, are coming to the market much slower than expected when Congress set a target of using 36 billion gallons of biofuels annually by 2022, with 21 billion gallons of it from advanced fuels and 15 billion gallons from corn ethanol.

Meanwhile, Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Steve Womack (R-AK), and Peter Welch (D-VT), who want the renewable fuel standard (RFS) to be lowered,  wrote a letter on April 1 to the Environmental Protection Agency inquiring whether the agency considers the effect that the corn-based ethanol mandate has on the food supply, the infrastructure limitation of producing renewable fuels; and the “blend wall” that limits the volume of renewable fuels refiners can put in their gasoline and diesel before the fuels are unusable.

“Despite the best intentions, the RFS’s premise and structure were based on many assumptions that no longer reflect the current market conditions and the imposition of the statutory volumes will cause further economic and environmental harm,” the four members of the House said in their letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In its proposal last year for the 2014 RFS mandate levels, EPA sought to lower volumes from 2013.  The letter applauded that proposal and encouraged EPA to make it final.

Reps. Goodlatte, Costa, Womack, and Welch have sponsored a bill to reform the RFS by eliminating corn-based ethanol requirements, capping the amount of ethanol that can go into gasoline, and setting the cellulosic biofuel mandate at production levels.