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The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Waiver Authority and Modification of Volumes

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Waiver Authority and Modification of Volumes

Full Title: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Waiver Authority and Modification of Volumes
Author(s): Kelsi Bracmort
Publisher(s): Congressional Research Service
Publication Date: January 1, 2017
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

The Clean Air Act requires that transportation fuels contain a minimum amount of renewable fuel. This renewable fuel standard (RFS) was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05; P.L. 109-58) and amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; P.L. 110-140). The RFS includes scheduled volume mandates that grow each year (starting with 9 billion gallons in 2008 and ascending to 36 billion gallons in 2022), with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determining the annual volume amounts following 2022. Within the overall RFS, there are sub-mandates for advanced biofuels, including cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, and other advanced biofuels.

EPA, which is responsible for administering the RFS, has the authority to waive the RFS requirements, in whole or in part, if certain conditions outlined in statute prevail. More specifically, the statute identifies a general waiver for the overall RFS and waivers for two types of advanced biofuel: cellulosic biofuel and biomass-based diesel. Statute requires EPA to announce each year’s standards by November 30 of the previous year, except for biomass-based diesel, which must be announced 14 months before the year for which the applicable volume will apply. Further, the final section of the waiver provision—which some refer to as the “reset” section—requires a permanent modification of applicable volumes of the RFS starting in 2016 and is carried forward, if certain conditions are met. The potential for full or partial RFS waivers can contribute to uncertainty for policymakers, industry, financiers, and other interested parties

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