Reviewing the Renewable Fuel Standard

Overview

The Committee on Energy and Commerce recently issued a series of white papers as the first step in reviewing the renewable fuel standard (RFS). The RFS was created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and greatly expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It sets targets and timetables for four categories of biofuels to be added into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. Each category must meet specific requirements as to its feedstock and its lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. The four categories are conventional biofuel (corn-derived ethanol), biodiesel, cellulosic biofuel, and undifferentiated advanced biofuel. The targets for the four categories total 16.55 billion gallons for 2013, of which not more than 13.8 billion gallons is conventional biofuel. Conventional biofuel is scheduled to reach its cap of 15 billion gallons by 2015, while the other categories continue to rise until the total RFS reaches 36 billion gallons by 2022.

It has been more than five years since the RFS was last revised, and we now have a wealth of actual implementation experience with it. In some respects, the RFS has unfolded as expected, but in others it has not. Several implementation challenges have emerged that received little if any consideration prior to passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Furthermore, the overall energy landscape has changed since 2007. It is time to undertake an assessment of the RFS.

White Papers

Paper 1 (Released on March 20, 2013)

Blend Wall / Fuel Compatibility Issues

Responses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7

Paper 2 (Released on April 18, 2013)

Agricultural Sector Impacts

Responses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7

Paper 3 (Released on May 9, 2013)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Other Environmental Impacts

Responses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7

Paper 4 (Released on June 7, 2013)

Energy Policy

Responses 1 and 2

Paper 5 (Released on July 11, 2013)

Implementation Issues

Responses 1 and 2

Hearings

Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard: Government Perspective (6/26)

Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard: Stakeholder Perspectives (7/23, 7/24)

 

Additional Resources

Upton, Waxman Provide Progress Report on RFS Review and Reform Effort (8/1)