At the very top of EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard
website, you’ll find this description of the program
devised by Congress in 2005 and expanded in 2007:
Congress created the renewable fuel standard (RFS)
program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and
expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while
reducing reliance on imported oil.
No question, the RFS was well-intentioned. But more
than a decade later, here’s what we know about those
top-line objectives set out by Congress:
- First, while the United States is less reliant on
imported crude oil – it’s mostly because of surging
domestic crude production, not creation of the RFS.
- Greenhouse gas emissions have declined – primarily
because increased use of cleaner-burning natural
gas, not RFS mandates requiring ever-increasing
levels of ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supply.
With EPA receiving public input on its
proposed ethanol-use volumes for 2018, it’s important
to see that America’s energy renaissance in natural gas
and oil production is the biggest reason for the progress
the U.S. has made toward those RFS objectives.
As for emissions, levels of carbon dioxide associated
with electricity generation are near 30-year lows,
primarily because of increased use of cleaner-burning
“Congress can put in place common-sense, bipartisan
reforms that advance sustainable fuels the right way –
solutions that work for family farmers while protecting
our water, wildlife, and economy.” Collin O’Mara,
president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation
While the United States has made important climate
progress and increased its energy security largely apart
from RFS contributions, the RFS itself continues to have
difficulties that could impact consumers and the overall
economy. Frank Macchiarola, API downstream group
director (pictured above), described some of these in
remarks at EPA’s public hearing in Washington.
EPA’s latest ethanol volume proposal – reducing volumes
from unattainable levels set out by Congress a decade
ago – is the right move, but more is needed.