* Current biofuel policy "cannot stand" - Congressman Upton
* Biofuel targets divide lawmakers along regional lines
* Time for trade groups to seek compromises - lawmaker
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, July 23 The U.S. biofuel system
"cannot stand" in its current form, the Republican head of the
House Energy and Commerce committee said on Tuesday as lawmakers
- largely divided between oil states and rural states - seek
common ground on the renewable fuel program.
The committee has published a series of papers on the
Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) since March, part of a bipartisan
review of a mandate that requires increasing amounts of biofuels
- chiefly, corn-derived ethanol - to be blended into U.S.
gasoline and diesel supplies.
"In my view, the current system cannot stand," Fred Upton, a
Republican congressman from Michigan and committee chairman,
said at the start of a two-day gathering of players in the U.S.
biofuel and oil industries.
Upton said he hoped the committee would consider several
changes to the RFS but with members of his Republican Party at
odds, did not firmly align himself on either side of the issue.
He also did not specify what changes he believes need to be
Lawmakers have been divided largely along regional lines,
and not Republican or Democratic party lines, regarding the
required fuel targets. Those from oil and gas producing states
are pushing for repeal of the law and representatives from areas
with corn and grain growers have largely sought to protect the
Critics of the targets say they could lead to fuel shortages
and price spikes if left unchanged.
Last week, the Obama administration's climate and energy
adviser, Heather Zichal, rejected calls to repeal the RFS as
"nothing but shortsighted."
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois, said on
Tuesday that it was time for the major trade groups representing
the oil and biofuel industries to stop simply calling for the
mandate to remain unchanged or for total repeal of the policy,
and instead to seek common ground.
"If you keep these positions, nobody is going to be happy
and nothing is going to get done," said Shimkus, whose district
includes both oil producers and corn growers.
Shimkus said there was not enough support on the committee
to completely do away with the renewable fuel targets, but
modifications to the policy were possible.
(Editing by Ros Krasny and Grant McCool)