In mid-May, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) introduced a new bill called the Domestic Alternative Fuels Act of 2013 (HR 1959) to the House of Representatives. The bill, which would amend section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act by expanding the types of feedstocks that are eligible under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on May 24.
The RFS program currently requires that specific amounts of renewable fuels are blended into transportation fuels each year, with that number increasing every year until 2022. In other words, to qualify for the program, a fuel must be produced using renewable resources. The new bill, however, would allow the energy and fuel industries to use domestic alternative fuelin addition to renewable fuelto satisfy their obligations under the RFS.
The bill defines domestic alternative fuel as “ethanol that is produced from natural gas; and is used to replace or reduce the quality of petroleum present in a transportation fuel.”
Although ethanol is most frequently produced by fermenting sugars from sugarcane or grains like wheat, corn, and sorghum, it can also be produced by converting natural gas to acetic acid. The acetic acid is then treated with hydrogen to produce ethanol. This process, dubbed the TCX process, has been developed by the Celanese Corporation, based in Dallas, Texas.
Ethanol is most -frequently produced by fermenting sugars from biomass. Credit: NAFTC.
“The United States needs a balanced and sensible domestic energy policy. In this era of global instability and economic uncertainty, we need to focus on building a broad and comprehensive energy policy that includes new technologies and harnesses existing natural resources,” said Steve Kominar of the Mingo Redevelopment Authority, a supporter of the bill.
However, it is not certain if the bill will receive widespread support among proponents of ethanol fuel. In January of last year, Rep. Pete Olson introduced a similar bill to the House of Representatives, the Domestic Fuels Act of 2012 (HB 3377), and the bill drew heavy criticism from the Renewable Fuels Association.
The Domestic Alternative Fuels Act of 2013 has been cosponsored by the following representatives: Rep. Barton (R-TX), Rep. Cole (R-OK), Rep. Costa (R-TX), Rep. Crawford (R-AR), Rep. Cuellar (D-TX), Rep. Farenthold (R-TX), Rep. Flores (R-TX), Rep. Green (D-TX), Rep. Griffin (R-AR), Rep. Hall (R-TX), Rep. Marino (R-PA), Rep. Neugebauer (R-TX), Rep. Poe (R-TX), Rep. Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Vela (D-TX), and Rep. Welch (D-VT).
For a full version of the legislation, please visit http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc113/h1959_ih.xml.