Renewable Fuel Standard

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Bioenergy > Policy > United States policy > Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)


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The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a provision of the US Energy Policy Act of 2005 that mandated 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2012.

  • There are at least 73 ethanol plants under construction and another 8 facilities expanding. This will bring ethanol capacity in the United States to 11.4 billion gallons per year by 2008-09 or before1.
  • This means that RFS target may be exceeded nearly four years ahead of schedule.

Contents

Summary RFS and Renewable Tax Provisions

  • The Energy Policy Act of 2005 - Conference Report - HR 6

Definitions

  • Establishes definitions for the renewable fuels program, including cellulosic biomass ethanol, waste derived ethanol, renewable fuel, and small refinery.

Fuel Program

  • Directs EPA to promulgate regulations ensuring that applicable volumes of renewable fuel are sold or introduced into commerce in the United States annually.
  • Regulations apply to refiners, blenders, and importers.
  • If regulations are not issued, the applicable percentage for 2006 is set at 2.78%.
  • Sets forth a phase- in for renewable fuel volumes over 7 years, beginning with 4 billion gallons by 2006 and ending at 7.5 billion gallons in 2012.
Year Renewable Fuels (billions of gallons)
2006 4.0
2007 4.7
2008 5.4
2009 6.1
2010 6.8
2011 7.4
2012 7.5
  • Provides EPA discretion on the future uses of renewable fuels including a minimum requirement of renewable fuels use in 2013 shall not be less than the percentage of 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel to the total number of gallons of gasoline in 2012.
  • Requires EIA, for the years 2006 through 2011, to provide an annual estimate of volumes of gasoline sold or introduced into commerce for the coming year.
  • Based on these estimates, DOE must publish regulations to ensure renewable fuel obligations for refiners, blenders, and importers are met.
  • Creates a 1-year credit-trading program for refiners, blenders or importers of petroleum.
  • Seasonal Variations - Requires EIA, for calendar years 2006 through 2012, to conduct an annual study on seasonal variations in renewable fuel use.
  • If the DOE determines, based on the study, that seasonal variations exist and will continue the Administrator must promulgate regulations ensuring that at least 25 percent of the annual renewable fuel obligation is met in each of 2 specified periods in the subsequent calendar year.
  • Exempts states that have received a 209(b) waiver (California) from the seasonal variation requirements of the bill. Note however, the refiners within California would still be required to use the requisite amount of renewable fuels in any given year.

Waivers

  • Authorizes DOE, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Energy, to waive the renewable fuels mandate for one or more States if the Administrator determines that implementing the requirements would severely harm the economy or the environment, or that there is inadequate domestic supply to meet the requirement.
  • Petitions for waivers must be acted on within 90 days of receipt and terminate after 1 year (but may be renewed).

Small Refineries

  • Exempts small refineries from the renewable fuels mandate for 5 years.
  • Requires DOE to assess whether the requirement places a disproportionate economic hardship on small refiners, and requires DOE to waive the requirement for an additional 2 years if such a hardship is discovered.
  • Small refineries may petition DOE for additional extensions for economic hardship.
  • If a small refinery chooses not to accept the waiver, it will receive credits for production in the following years.

Data Collection

  • Requires a monthly survey of renewable fuels demand in the motor vehicle fuels market.

Cellulosic Bimass Program

  • Creates a credit-trading program where 1 gallon of cellulosic biomass ethanol or waste derived ethanol is equal to 2.5 gallons of renewable fuel.
  • Creates a cellulosic biomass program of 250 million gallons in 2013
  • Creates a Loan Guarantee Program of $250 million per facility
  • Creates a $650 million Grant Program for cellulosic ethanol
  • Creates an Advanced Biofuels Technologies Program of $550 million.

Sugar to Ethanol Program

  • Creates a $36 million program to convert sugar cane to ethanol in Hawaii, Florida, Louisiana and Texas.
  • Creates a $250 million loan guarantee program for sugar to ethanol facilities.
  • Creates a $50 million loan guarantee program for sugar cane to ethanol facilities.

Renewable Tax Provisions

  • Extends Biodiesel VEETC Tax Credit through December 31, 2008
  • Creates Alternative Fuels Installation Fuel Refueling Property of up to 30%.
  • Modifies the Small Ethanol Producer Credit to 60 million gallons
  • Create a new Small Agribiodiesel Producer Credit

Events

News

2012

  • EPA palm oil analysis draws support, criticism as comments close, 26 April 2012 by Erin Voegele for Biodiesel Magazine: "The public comment period for the U.S. EPA’s palm oil pathway assessment under the renewable fuel standard (RFS2) closes April 27. As the deadline approaches, groups representing both sides of the issue are speaking out in an effort to sway the EPA’s final decision on the matter."
    • "As the deadline approaches, parties arguing in support and opposition of the EPA’s findings are speaking out. Robert Shapiro, chairman and co-founder of Sonecon LLC, a firm that advises organizations on market conditions and economic policy, is one of the people who has submitted comments opposing the EPA’s analysis of palm oil biofuels."
      • "First, he questions the accuracy of the agency’s method to predict indirect land use change (ILUC), noting that without the highly unreliable inclusion of ILUC data, palm oil-based biodiesel and renewable diesel would meet the prescribed RFS2 thresholds."
      • "He also states that his analysis has found that the EPA’s assumption that palm oil yields will not increase in the future is false. He also stated that the EPA’s calculated 'midpoints' for its projected range of emissions effects are inaccurate."
    • "However, there are also individuals and groups that are arguing that the EPA’s analysis was too lenient, and the actually GHG emissions associated with palm oil biofuels are much higher. A group of scientific and environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, is set to submit a public comment on the issue April 27 agreeing with EPA’s assessment that these fuels don’t meet RFS2 GHG reduction thresholds, and also arguing that the agency’s GHG assessments are too low."
      • "According to Jeremy Martin, senior scientist for the UCS’ Clean Vehicles Program, the EPA’s analysis underestimates the serious environmental problems caused by palm oil production. 'We’ve done a thorough review of EPA’s analysis and have found that in several important areas they did substantially underestimate the emissions,' Martin said. 'We’ve provided EPA with data substantiating more appropriate values.' Using those new values, Martin said the analysis shows palm oil biofuels actually result in more GHG emissions than petroleum-based fuels. He also brought up issues associated with food production and the long history of deforestation associated with palm oil production." [2]
  • EPA switches course on new feedstocks in fuel standard, 6 March 2012 by Amanda Peterka for Governors' Biofuels Coalition: "On the heels of opposition from the environmental community, U.S. EPA today withdrew a rule that would have added four new feedstocks to the Renewable Fuel Standard."
    • "The direct final rule, proposed in early January, would have allowed advanced biofuels made from camelina oil, energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass to qualify under the yearly obligations set by the standard. It also would have opened the standard to biomass-based jet fuel and certain renewable gasolines made from crop residues and yard, food and municipal solid wastes."
    • "But in a notice posted today in the Federal Register, the agency said it is withdrawing the rule after receiving 'adverse comment.' EPA had proposed the initial rule without taking public comment, describing it as a 'noncontroversial' action." [3]
  • Biodiesel industry tries to limit damage from fake credits scandal, 6 February 2012 by Platts: "US biodiesel producers fear the recent scandal uncovering phony renewable fuel credits could erode support for the federal energy policy at a crucial time in its implementation."
    • "National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe on Monday urged opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard to avoid the temptation to use the fake credits as a weapon to bludgeon the mandate, which requires an increasing share of biofuels get blended into the US transportation fuel supply."
    • "Federal investigators and the Environmental Protection Agency's compliance division have flagged two sellers of renewable identification numbers (RINs), codes that should correspond with actual biofuel production to satisfy renewable energy mandates. In November, EPA declared invalid 32.3 million biodiesel credits sold by Clean Green Fuels of Maryland. Last week, the agency tossed out 48.1 million biodiesel credits sold by Absolute Fuels of Texas."[4]

2011

  • Biofuel Subsidies Need Reform, 27 December 2011 by The Energy Collective: "Americans want the U.S. to lead the world in renewable energy, but these are screwy times in our nation’s capital. Some people are trying to turn clean, renewable energy into something dirty."
    • "That’s the case with the impending expiration of the main corn ethanol tax credit."
    • "Despite Norquist’s initial defense of the subsidy, at the end of the day, not even the millions the corn ethanol industry spent on lobbying could stand up against the evidence: the VEETC was redundant and wasteful, throwing billions in scarce taxpayer dollar towards another dirty fuel."
    • "The first and most important step in moving towards the biofuels we need is to stop funding mature, conventional, and dirty biofuels."
    • "Second, the entrepreneurs and innovators in the advanced biofuels industry all say that the Renewable Fuel Standard is critical to getting their fuels out of the lab and into the market place. But to be effective, the RFS and its implementation need to be strengthened and improved over time."
    • "And finally, we need to reform biofuel tax credits so that American taxpayers get real clean energy for their money."[6]
  • EPA Issues Notice of Data Availability Concerning Renewable Fuels Produced from Palm Oil Under the RFS Program, December 2011 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: "he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) to release its lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis of palm oil used as a feedstock to produce biodiesel and renewable diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The release of the NODA provides the public an opportunity to comment on EPA’s analysis."
    • "EPA’s analysis shows that biodiesel and renewable diesel produced from palm oil do not meet the minimum 20% lifecycle GHG reduction threshold needed to qualify as renewable fuel under the RFS program...."
    • "EPA’s analysis highlights a number of key factors which contribute to the lifecycle emissions estimate for biofuels based on palm oil. For example, palm oil production produces wastewater effluent that eventually decomposes, creating methane, a GHG with a high global warming potential. Another key factor is the expected expansion of palm plantations onto land with carbon-rich peat soils which would lead to significant releases of GHGs to the atmosphere."
  • Food prices and the influence of biofuels, 15 October 2011 by Columbia Daily Tribune: "While one set of critics argues farm subsidies drive down food prices and contributed to rising rates of obesity, others argue biofuel policies are driving up food prices and contributing to world hunger."
    • "Biofuel policies might do more to raise food prices than farm subsidies do to reduce food prices."
    • "Increasing agricultural production can make it possible to provide more food and more fuel to a growing world, and rising biofuel production is not the only cause of rising food prices."
    • "Reducing or eliminating the RFS could have larger impacts on biofuel production and food prices, and a bill to reduce the RFS when grain stocks are low has been introduced in Congress."
    • "Some have argued that moving to 'second generation' biofuels, such as ethanol made from switchgrass, would alleviate concerns about biofuel production on food prices. According to a recent National Academy of Sciences report, however, such fuels still are not commercially viable."
    • "If oil prices are high enough, biofuel production could continue to increase even if current biofuel policies are removed. That means future food prices might be even more dependent on energy markets than is the case today."[7]
  • RFS: It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Working, 11 October 2011 by Biofuels Digest: "The Renewable Fuel Standard is the key foundation policy supporting the commercial development of advanced biofuels."
    • "It is not working as fast as some would like, but given the current economic situation it is indeed working."
    • "Nevertheless, there is some impatience and disappointment that cellulosic biofuel production has not grown fast enough to meet the aggressive RFS goals. A new report from the National Academies on the RFS is stoking this sentiment."
    • "The National Academies report takes a good hard look at the challenges facing the cellulosic biofuel industry – primarily, the growing and harvesting of sufficient biomass resources and the formation of capital to construct new biorefineries."
    • "The large volume of the advanced biofuels mandate of the RFS permits a number of technologies, feedstocks and strategies to compete for market space, depending on their ability to achieve cost competitiveness and meet end-user needs."
    • "We need to follow a parallel path of commercialization and continued research so we can improve technology and the cost structure as we move forward with building modern biorefineries and creating a new biobased economy."[8]
  • Cellulosic Ethanol Production Far Behind Renewable Fuel Standard, 11 October 2011 by Environment News Service: "The United States is not likely to reach cellulosic ethanol production mandates spelled out in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard by 2022 unless 'innovative technologies are developed or policies change,' says a new congressionally-requested report from the National Research Council."
    • "Cellulosic ethanol is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses, or the non-edible parts of plants, such as corncobs or citrus peels."
    • "In 2005, Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard as part of the Energy Policy Act and amended it in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act."
    • "While production of ethanol and biodiesel already exceed the mandate, no commercial cellulosic biofuels plants exist and technologies are at demonstration scale."
    • "But this year cellulosic biofuel output is likely to be 6.6 million gallons, far below the RFS target for 2011 of 250 million gallons, the report points out."
    • "Renewable fuels advocates criticized the NRC committee for is narrow focus and said a broader view of the entire industry is required to accurately evaluate the likelihood of cellulosic biofuel to meet the mandated requirements."[9]
  • Biofuel push a bust, report hints, 5 October 2011 by John Roach for MSNBC: "Unless a major technological breakthrough occurs in the next few years, a U.S. government push to put 16 billions of gallons of cellulosic biofuel into gas tanks annually by 2022 will be a bust, hints a new report."
    • "The push comes from the congressionally mandated Renewable Fuel Standard. Of the mandated total of 36 billion gallons from a mix of biofuels, the corn-derived ethanol target of 15 billion gallons is doable, the report says."
    • "But a big part of the standard — 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels from non-edible plant material such as cornstalks and switchgrass — is unlikely to be met, Wallace Tyner, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, told me Tuesday."
    • "'The technologies are just not advanced enough to be commercial, they are not cheap enough yet to be commercial, and we are going to have to invest more in R&D if we want to accelerate the pace,' he said."
    • "'Here we are in 2011 and we have 11 years to get to 2022 and build 16 billion gallons with a technology that's costlier and riskier, a feedstock that's costlier, and it is just not likely to happen,' he said."[10]
  • Certain biofuel mandates unlikely to be met by 2022; unless new technologies, policies developed, 4 October 2011 by EurekAlert: "It is unlikely the United States will meet some specific biofuel mandates under the current Renewable Fuel Standard by 2022 unless innovative technologies are developed or policies change, says a new congressionally requested report from the National Research Council, which adds that the standard may be an ineffective policy for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions."
    • "The committee that wrote the report said that production of adequate volumes of biofuels are expected to meet consumption mandates for conventional biofuels and biomass-based diesel fuel. However, whether and how the mandate for cellulosic biofuels will be met is uncertain."
    • "Currently, no commercially viable biorefineries exist for converting cellulosic biomass to fuel. The capacity to meet the renewable fuel mandate for cellulosic biofuels will not be available unless the production process is unexpectedly improved and technologies are scaled up and undergo several commercial-scale demonstrations in the next few years."
    • "Only in an economic environment characterized by high oil prices, technological breakthroughs, and a high implicit or actual carbon price would biofuels be cost-competitive with petroleum-based fuels, the committee concluded."[11]
  • Ethanol critics target mandates as subsidy ends, 10 September 2011 by DesMoinesRegister.com: "With the ethanol subsidy all but dead, some of the industry’s critics are turning their attention to the government mandates that force motorists to fill up with the corn-based gasoline additive and other biofuels."
    • "Under current law, the mandates will require refiners to increase their use of corn ethanol to 15 billion gallons a year by 2015."
    • "The industry agreed this summer to a proposed congressional deal that would have ended the subsidy early and used the savings to help fund the installation of new ethanol pumps at service stations around the country."
    • "But the industry’s allies in Congress couldn’t get the deal included in a bill that lifted the government’s debt ceiling, and they say the prospects of getting it passed now are slim, given the government’s fiscal problems and the looming expiration of the 45-cent subsidy."
    • "The industry likely stands a better chance of protecting the annual usage mandates, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, from being weakened by livestock or environmental interests."[12]
  • Rethinking Life-Cycle Fuel Regulations, 20 August 2011 by Forbes: "In the most recent issue of Climatic Change, one of the resident geniuses that populate the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, Dr. John DeCicco, argues that attempting to regulate fuels using a lifecycle analysis (LCA)-based approach—as is currently done by California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard—is an exercise in futility for purposes of gaging environmental effectiveness."
    • "Instead, in 'Biofuels and carbon management,' DeCicco proposes a method using annual basis carbon (ABC) accounting to track the stocks and flows of carbon and other relevant greenhouse gases (GHGs) throughout fuel supply chains."
    • "ABC accounting would avoid an automatic credit of biogenic carbon in biofuels, and minimize and accumulation of carbon debt due to indirect land-use change, he says."
    • "Upon reflection, policy is best defined using current-period accounting of carbon stocks and flows, ideally with direct, measurement-based, verifiable tallies of GHG emissions from the production and use of all fuels and feedstocks."[13]
  • U.S. Ethanol Industry to Keep Subsidies Until End of 2011, 1 August 2011 by Bloomberg: "U.S. ethanol subsidies aren’t affected by a congressional agreement to lift the country’s debt limit that may be voted on by both chambers today, according to industry groups."
    • "The 45-cent tax credit for each gallon of the biofuel blended into gasoline and the 54-cent tariff on Brazilian imports, due to expire Dec. 31, will stay in place for now, according to the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy, Washington-based industry trade groups."
    • "Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, forged a July 7 deal with Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, to eliminate the government supports and to include it as part of the deficit- reduction package. The agreement proposed to reduce federal deficit by $1.33 billion and to dedicate $668 million to biofuels and new technologies."
    • "The U.S. is required to use 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol this year and 15 billion gallons by 2015 under an energy law signed in 2007, known as the Renewable Fuels Standard."[14]
  • Ethanol Industry Is Unruffled by Senate Vote Against Tax Breaks, 17 June 2011 by The New York Times: "The Senate dealt the ethanol industry a rare defeat on Thursday when it voted 73-27 to end the annual $6 billion tax break given to blenders of ethanol, along with a tariff on foreign ethanol intended to protect the domestic industry from Brazilian sugar ethanol imports."
    • "The biggest government support for ethanol — the renewable fuels standard, which mandates the use of up to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol in transport fuels — would not be touched by the amendment and appears politically safe."
    • "And lastly, just minutes after overwhelmingly voting against tax supports for ethanol, the Senate voted down another measure previously passed by the House of Representatives to prohibit public spending on special blender pumps and tanks needed to distribute higher concentrations of ethanol in gasoline."
    • "But if some tax changes do occur, some small ethanol producers who depend on the blending tax breaks are likely to get hurt and some may go out of business."[15]
  • National Wildlife Federation Launches Lawsuit to Protect America’s Vanishing Grasslands, 22 April 2011 by National Wildlife Federation: "The National Wildlife Federation is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a bid to protect America’s vanishing grasslands. The EPA is ignoring laws designed to protect the fragile ecosystem from harmful and unnecessary agricultural production. The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) created by Congress and implemented by the EPA requires a certain amount of transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain renewable fuel, such as corn ethanol. In crafting the RFS, Congress clearly recognizes the need to protect America’s grasslands by limiting biofuel feedstock production and harvesting to agricultural lands. In other words, natural ecosystems, like grasslands, are not supposed to be converted for agricultural uses. However, the EPA is flaunting this important provision by adopting an 'aggregate compliance approach', which allows protected ecosystems to be destroyed for biofuels production."
    • "'Plowing up our nation’s last remnants of native grasslands to grow more corn for ethanol is like burning the Mona Lisa for firewood,' said Julie Sibbing, Director of Agriculture programs for the National Wildlife Federation."
    • "The National Wildlife Federation’s goal in this lawsuit is to ensure that the federal renewable fuel requirements are met in a way that protects natural ecosystems from environmentally damaging conversion to agricultural land."[16]
  • Biodiesel roars back with mandate, tax credits, B20 OKs, 7 February 2011 by Biofuels Digest: "'The EPA has said that they are going to enforce the 800 million gallon volume RFS2 requirement' said National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe to Biodiesel magazine, 'and we will have the tax credit in place.'"
    • "At the same time, there are challenges on the feedstock front. Bottom line, jatropha, camelina and algae are still emerging feedstocks, soy and canola are pricey, waste oils & greases are tough to find at scale, and palm is politically radioactive."
    • "For sure, the biodiesel industry is in a right jolly mood in comparison to 2009 or 2010, and has set its theme as 'Advance'. In part, that’s a recognition of biodiesel, under the rules of the Renewable Fuel Standard, as an 'advanced biofuel’ and that’s a market position that the biodiesel industry would like to have in the mind of every renewable fuels stakeholder"
    • "We continue to see biodiesel as a growing fuel, but not yet do we see the near-term feedstock availability, at affordable prices, for the fuel to have major US advancements beyond mandated levels in the billion-gallon range, before mid-decade, without importing jatropha oil from abroad (if it is not snapped up by the military or aviation sectors first)."[18]
  • USDA Approves Use of Genetically Engineered Corn for Ethanol, 11 February 2011 by Friends of the Earth: "The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it has approved a form of genetically engineered corn created by the biotechnology corporation Syngenta Seeds, Inc. for use in ethanol production."
    • "The USDA deregulated the crop, meaning it is not subject to a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement or any restrictions on where and how it can be planted."
    • "Eric Hoffman warned, “This new strain of genetically engineered corn is not meant for human consumption, but... contamination is bound to happen."
    • "The Renewable Fuel Standard, the law passed by Congress in 2007, requires the consumption of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, 15 billion gallons of which is projected to be met with corn ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a report detailing the harmful impacts that this law continues to have on water, soil and air quality."[19]

2010

  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Awards Woody Biomass Utilization Projects, 24 June 2010 by the USDA: "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the award of more than $4.2 million in grants to 13 small businesses and community groups developing innovative renewable energy projects and new product development using woody biomass from hazardous fuel reduction projects on National Forest land."
    • "'Energy derived from woody biomass, switch-grass and other sources has enormous potential benefits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing clean, home-grown energy, and providing economic opportunities for rural America,' Vilsack said. 'Markets for woody biomass can also bolster forest restoration activities on both public and private lands, improving the ecological health of our forests and reducing the impacts of global climate change.'"
    • "In Arizona, for example, Cooley Forest Products will purchase a mobile canter saw allowing them to process small logs at a forest landing, thereby reducing transportation costs. West Range Reclamation in Colorado can now acquire a delimber/debarker allowing them to efficiently process beetle-killed trees."
    • "Earlier this week, Vilsack released a report which provided a roadmap on how America can meet the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2)."[21]
  • EPA's Biofuel Mandates Based on Shaky Assumptions, Scientists Say, 20 April 2010 by SolveClimate: "Federal renewable fuel mandates have created an industry around corn ethanol that now consumes nearly a third of the U.S. corn crop. But what is the rationale behind those mandates in the first place? Several scientists have asked and found the answers to be unsound."
    • "When the Environmental Protection Agency revised its renewable fuel standards in February, the agency recalculated the lifecycle emissions of corn ethanol to find that it was 20 percent less greenhouse-gas emitting than gasoline and, therefore, qualified as a renewable fuel. Some wondered what had changed since an EPA review issued less than a year before found that emissions from corn ethanol were too high for it to qualify."
    • "As it turns out, none of the actual data about emissions from biofuels changed — just the way the EPA presented it....Specifically, the agency's new fuel standards assess each biofuel based on its assumed greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2022, the deadline by which renewable fuel production must be at levels mandated by the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007."
    • But focusing on the amount biofuels are expected to emit in 2022 'distorts the picture of today's biofuels,' according to Jeremy Martin, a senior analyst in the Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program."
    • "Even the EPA's own analysis 'shows that, in the near term, natural-gas-powered, dry-milled corn ethanol production results in an increase of greenhouse gas emissions of 12 to 33 percent compared to gasoline,' says Joe Fargione, a lead scientist at the Nature Conservancy."[22]
  • White House Clears Rules on Indirect GHG Emissions From Biofuels, 2 February 2010 by Greenwire/New York Times: "The White House has completed its review of controversial U.S. EPA regulations aimed at curbing renewable fuels' greenhouse gas emissions."
    • "The Office of Management and Budget signed off on the rule yesterday..., clearing EPA to finalize the long-delayed implementation of the renewable fuels standard that Congress included in the 2007 energy bill."
    • "The standard requires EPA to assess the "lifecycle" emissions of biofuels -- weighing the emissions from growing crops, producing fuels made from them, and distributing and using the fuels."
    • "The draft regulations EPA proposed last year sparked outrage from biofuels advocates and farm-state lawmakers who maintained the agency was unfair to ethanol."
    • "The EPA proposal measures emissions from "indirect" land-use changes associated with biofuels -- such as land that is deforested in other countries because of increased crop growth in the United States. The agency concluded, depending on the time frames modeled, that traditional corn ethanol could have a slightly larger emissions footprint than gasoline when land-use changes are factored in."[24]
  • U.S. Feeds One Quarter of its Grain to Cars While Hunger is on the Rise, 21 January 2010 press release by Earth Policy Institute: "The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year."
    • "The amount of grain needed to fill the tank of an SUV with ethanol just once can feed one person for an entire year....Continuing to divert more food to fuel, as is now mandated by the U.S. federal government in its Renewable Fuel Standard, will likely only reinforce the disturbing rise in hunger."[25]

2009

  • Exxon Sinks $600M Into Algae-Based Biofuels in Major Strategy Shift, 15 July 2009 by The New York Times: "Exxon is joining a biotech company, Synthetic Genomics Inc., to research and develop next-generation biofuels produced from sunlight, water and waste carbon dioxide by photosynthetic pond scum."
    • "Next-wave biofuels that could reduce carbon emissions and displace oil imports are politically popular but have not moved into commercial production as fast as supporters would have hoped. Biofuels overall got a boost through a 2007 law that expands the national renewable fuels standard, or RFS, to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022."
    • "Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said the RFS expansion is too restrictive and could freeze out emerging technologies -- including algae-based biofuels....'despite having characteristics superior to any renewable fuels in commercial production today, [algae-based fuels] have no home in the RFS'".
  • A New North American Consensus in Biofuels, 18 February 2009 by MSNBC:
    • "As America and Canada look for ways to provide economic opportunity, reduce the impacts of climate change, and develop renewable energy sources, the role of biofuels in the energy plans of both nations is becoming increasingly important. Both nations are investing in alternatives to imported oil."
    • "Paralleling efforts in the U.S. to expand the use of ethanol, the Canadian Parliament last year passed a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requiring gasoline sold in Canada to contain an average of 5% renewable content, including ethanol, and 2% renewable content, including biodiesel, in the diesel supply.'
    • "Finally, based on a number of recent studies, it is clear that renewable fuels using both grains and cellulosic feedstocks are better for the environment than gasoline."

2008

  • Texas Biofuels Waiver Request Shot Down, 7 August 2008 by Environment News Service: "The Bush administration today denied a request by Texas to cut the U.S. biofuels mandate in half, rejecting the claim that the massive increase in corn-based ethanol is causing economic harm to the state's livestock industry and raising food prices."
    • "Today's announcement came in response to a request made in April by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cut the RFS mandate by 50 percent."
    • "Perry ... argues that demand for ethanol is responsible for corn prices that reached record levels in June, up nearly 120 percent from 2007. Those high corn prices that are harming his state's cattle and poultry farmers, Perry said in his request, and are being passed onto consumers in higher food costs."
    • "But the head of the EPA disagreed. The RFS mandate is not causing the "severe economic harm" required by law to waive the requirement, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said today."

References

1Biofuels: Statement Of Keith Collins Chief Economist, U.S. Department Of Agriculture Before The U.S. Senate Committee On Agriculture, Nutrition And Forestry - 10 January 2007.

Publications


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Proposed Federal Legislation: Energy Bill |

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