Renewable Fuel Standard

One of the most successful energy policies ever enacted in the United States, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has laid the foundation for further private investment in the domestic biofuels industry. The RFS has helped generate jobs, revive rural economies, reduce oil imports, lower gasoline prices, reduce air pollution, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Big Oil doesn't like the RFS, however, because it has taken 10 percent of their barrel, reduced consumer costs, and begun to wean America off its addiction to foreign petroleum. They have teamed up with allies in the livestock, poultry, grocery, and chain restaurant industries to repeal the RFS, but the U.S. biofuels sector and our supporters among environmentalists, consumers, national security experts and Rural America are gearing up to fight back.

Background

On December 19, 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 6) was signed into law. This comprehensive energy legislation amends the Renewable Fuel Standard signed into law in 2005, growing the RFS to 36 billion gallons in 2022. By doing so, the legislation seizes on the potential that renewable fuels offer to reduce foreign oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions and provide meaningful economic opportunity across this country, putting America firmly on a path toward greater energy stability and sustainability.

Implementation
Among other provisions, the RFS sets mandatory blend levels for renewable fuels while also establishing greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction criteria and a methodology for calculating lifecycle GHG emissions.

According to EPA's lifecycle GHG modeling, corn-based ethanol achieves a 21 percent GHG reduction compared to gasoline even when a speculative and uncertain penalty for international indirect land use change (ILUC) is included. Without ILUC, corn-based ethanol achieves a 52 percent GHG reduction. Cellulosic ethanol achieves GHG reductions of 72-130 percent depending upon feedstock and conversion process. All GHG reductions for ethanol exceed those mandated by the RFS2. Click here to view a detailed RFA summary on the rule.

With full implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) now in full swing, ethanol producers will be required to register with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In an effort to provide producers with information needed before registration, the RFA has created a registration requirements summary for both grain ethanol and cellulosic ethanol production to help guide you through the process. Please also see the RFS2 Registration Compliance Guidelines Engineering Review here.

Summary of the Biofuels Provisions - Title II

DEFINITIONS (Sec. 201)
Establishes definitions for the renewable fuels program, including conventional biofuel, advanced biofuels, cellulosic biofuels and biomass-based diesel.

  • Conventional biofuel is ethanol derived from corn starch. Conventional ethanol facilities that commence construction after the date of enactment must achieve a 20 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction compared to baseline lifecycle GHG emissions. The 20 percent GHG emissions reduction requirement may be adjusted to a lower percentage (but not less than 10 percent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator if it is determined the requirement is not feasible for conventional biofuels.
  • Advanced biofuels is renewable fuel other than ethanol derived from corn starch, that is derived from renewable biomass, and achieves a 50 percent GHG emissions reduction requirement. The definition — and the schedule — of advanced biofuels include cellulosic biofuels and biomass-based diesel. The 50 percent GHG emissions reduction requirement may be adjusted to a lower percentage (but not less than 40 percent) by the Administrator if it is determined the requirement is not feasible for advanced biofuels. (Cellulosic biofuels that do not meet the 60 percent threshold, but do meet the 50 percent threshold, may qualify as an advanced biofuel.)
  • Cellulosic biofuels is renewable fuel derived from any cellulose, hemicellulose, or lignin, that is derived from renewable biomass, and achieves a 60 percent GHG emission reduction requirement. The 60 percent GHG emissions reduction requirement may be adjusted to a lower percentage (but not less than 50 percent) by the Administrator if it is determined the requirement is not feasible for cellulosic biofuels.

RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD (Sec. 202)

  • 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.
  • The applicable volume for 2008 is set at 9.0 billion gallons.
  • Sets forth a phase-in for renewable fuel volumes beginning with 9 billion gallons in 2008 and ending at 36 billion gallons in 2022.
Year Renewable Biofuel Advanced Biofuel Cellulosic Biofuel Biomass-based Diesel Undifferentiated Advanced Biofuel Total RFS
2008 9.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 9.00
2009 10.50 0.60 0.00 0.50 0.10 11.10
2010 12.00 0.95 0.10 0.65 0.20 12.95
2011 12.60 1.35 0.25 0.80 0.30 13.95
2012 13.20 2.00 0.50 1.00* 0.50 15.20
2013 13.80 2.75 1.00 1.00* 0.75 16.55
2014 14.40 3.75 1.75 1.00* 1.00 18.15
2015 15.00 5.50 3.00 1.00* 1.50 20.50
2016 15.00 7.25 4.25 1.00* 2.00 22.25
2017 15.00 9.00 5.50 1.00* 2.50 24.00
2018 15.00 11.00 7.00 1.00* 3.00 26.00
2019 15.00 13.00 8.50 1.00* 3.50 28.00
2020 15.00 15.00 10.50 1.00* 3.50 30.00
2021 15.00 18.00 13.50 1.00* 3.50 33.00
2022 15.00 21.00 16.00 1.00* 4.00 36.00

* Biomass-based diesel volume must be a 1 BG minimum beginning in 2012

WAIVERS (Sec. 202)

  • Authorizes the EPA Administrator by his own motion, one or more States, or a refiner/blender to petition for a waiver of the renewable fuels mandate. Following public notice and comment, the Administrator is authorized to waive the renewable fuels mandate if the Administrator determines that implementing the requirement would severely harm the economy or the environment, or that there is inadequate domestic supply to meet the requirement.
  • Authorizes a separate waiver provision for cellulosic biofuels if the minimum volume requirement is not met. The Administrator is authorized to reduce the applicable volume of required cellulosic biofuels, and make available for sale a cellulosic biofuels credit at the higher of $0.25 per gallon or the amount by which $3.00 per gallon exceeds the average wholesale price of a gallon of gasoline (in the United States).
  • Beginning in 2017, if the EPA Administrator waives at least 20 percent of the mandate for two consecutive years, or waives 50 percent of the mandate for a single year, the Administrator is authorized to modify the volume requirement for the remaining years of the renewable fuels mandate.

GRANTS

  • Authorizes $500 million annually for FY08-FY15 for the production of advanced biofuels that have at least an 80 percent reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions relative to current fuels. (Sec. 207)
  • Authorizes $25 million annually for FY08-FY10 for R&D and commercial application of biofuels production in states with low rates of ethanol and cellulosic ethanol production. (Sec. 223)
  • Authorizes a $200 million grant program for FY08-FY14 for the installation of refueling infrastructure for E-85. (Sec. 244)

BIOFUELS INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Amends the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act to make it unlawful for a franchiser to prohibit a franchise from installing E-85 or B-20 tanks and pumps within the franchise agreement. (Sec. 241)
  • Requires the Secretary of Energy to report to Congress on the market penetration of flexible fuel vehicles and on the feasibility of requiring fuel retailers to install E-85 infrastructure. (Sec. 242)
  • Requires the head of each federal agency to install at least one renewable fuel pump at each federal fleet refueling center by January 1, 2010. (Sec. 246)

STUDIES

  • Directs the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, to report on the feasibility of constructing dedicated ethanol pipelines. (Sec. 243)
  • Directs the Secretary of Energy to study whether optimizing flexible fuel vehicles to run on E-85 would increase their fuel efficiency. (Sec. 225)
  • Directs the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, to report on the adequacy of railroad transportation of domestically produced renewable fuel. (Sec. 245)
  • Directs the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of the RFS program on each industry relating to the production of feed grains, livestock, food, forest products and energy. (Sec. 203)

ANTI-BACKSLIDING

  • Requires EPA to study the potential adverse effects to air quality from the expanded RFS, and to promulgate regulations to mitigate those effects. (Sec. 209)

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Prohibits the introduction of new renewable fuels or renewable fuel additives unless EPA explicitly grants a waiver under Sec. 211(f) of the Clean Air Act. EPA is required to take final action within 270 days of receipt of the waiver request. (Sec. 251)
  • Amends Sec. 932 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to include research on energy efficiency at biorefineries and on technology to convert existing corn-based ethanol plants to process cellulosic materials. (Sec. 224)
  • Requires the establishment of at least seven bioresearch centers that focus on biofuels. (Sec. 233)
  • Requires EPA, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Agriculture, to report to Congress on the impacts of the RFS program on environmental issues, resource conservation issues, the growth and use of cultivated, invasive and noxious plants and their impact on the environment and agriculture. (Sec. 204)
  • Directs the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of EPA, to establish a R&D and demonstration program relating to existing transportation fuel distribution infrastructure and new alternative distribution infrastructure that focus on the physical and chemical properties of biofuels and efforts to prevent or mitigate against adverse impacts of those properties. (Sec. 248)
  • Expands EPA’s authority to control engines, vehicles, fuels and fuel additives under Sec. 211(c) of the Clean Air Act to include effects on water pollution. (Sec. 208)
  • Directs the Secretary of Energy to establish a technology transfer center to provide information on biofuels and biorefineries. (Sec. 229)

BIOFUELS TAX PROVISIONS

  • There is NO biofuels tax provision included in H.R. 6.

ENACTMENT

  • H.R. 6 took effect on January 1, 2009 (with the exception of the 9.0 billion gallon volume requirement for the existing RFS program that took effect in 2008). (Sec. 210)