The U.S. EPA finalized amendments to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program that include new renewable fuel production pathways for renewable diesel, renewable naphtha, and renewable electricity (used in electric vehicles) from landfill biogas. According to the EPA, “Adding these new pathways will enhance the ability of the biofuels industry to supply advanced biofuels, including cellulosic biofuels, which greatly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) compared to the petroleum-based fuels they replace.” However, these changes don’t address some of the fundamental problems associated with the RFS, according to critics.
For example, NACS, the international trade association that serves the convenience and fuel retailing industry, claims the RFS is outdated due to its reliance on incorrect assumptions about market demand and infrastructure costs. NACS recently offered the following three policy recommendations to reinvigorate the RFS:
- The statutory increases in renewable fuel volumes sold each year must be revised to reflect the declining size of the overall gasoline market.
- Policymakers must take steps to make higher ethanol blends legal and attractive to sell.
- A significant education campaign is needed to build consumer demand.
Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, argues against the RFS altogether: “Congress had laudable intentions when it passed the RFS, but the past six years have underscored the costly economic and environmental impacts of this policy. It is time to restore competition and consumer choice to the fuel markets, and for Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
Others, however, believe the RFS is working, and helping to develop a new and cleaner fuel industry.
Is the Renewable Fuel Standard working? What changes, if any, should be made to the RFS?