Updated at 5:38 p.m.
The national trade group for the biodiesel industry is looking to Bingham McCutchen for lobbying help amid growing concerns in Congress about the use of renewable fuel.
The National Biodiesel Board has engaged the firm to advocate for it on matters concerning the implementation of the renewable fuel standard, according to lobbying registration paperwork filed on Wednesday. The standard mandates the blending of 36 billion gallons of biofuel with customary fuel by 2022. Under the program, about 9 percent of all fuel used this year is slated to come from renewable sources.
But with a severe drought gripping the United States, members of Congress are pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lower the standard in an effort to provide some financial relief for the food industry this year. A bipartisan group of more than 100 House members signed an August 1 letter that called on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to provide a "fair and meaningful nationwide adjustment" to the standard, expressing particular concern about rising corn prices and the grain's use in ethanol.
"We obviously think the [standard] is working very well," National Biodiesel Board spokesman Ben Evans said. But Bingham's lobbying "doesn't have anything to do with the drought."
Evans said the firm is focusing on efforts to improve the integrity of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), which are renewable fuel credits petroleum refiners purchase if they can't produce a certain amount of biodiesel. Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board chief executive officer, said in testimony prepared for a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing last month that fraud with RINs has resulted in "significant disruptions in the distribution and marketing of biofuels."
Bingham partner Sandra Franco, who is handling the account, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
The National Biodiesel Board spent $538,948 on federal lobbying during the first half of this year, according to congressional records. For its government advocacy efforts, the association uses one of its own staffers and lobbyists from the Alpine Group, Diamond Group, Washington Council Ernst & Young and Van Ness Feldman.