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RFS 11 years on

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

11 years ago on 8 August, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was signed into law, ushering in a new era of rising energy security, cleaner air, and more affordable options at the pump. After more than a decade, the programme continues to drive US job creation and new innovations in renewable energy, a fact celebrated by the nation’s leading biofuel advocates.

“Our government challenged the biofuels industry to produce the world’s cleanest, most affordable and sustainable fuel for cars and trucks. We delivered – and America continues to benefit,” said Adam Monroe, President, Americas, Novozymes North America Inc. “The RFS is a proven winner: it grows communities with hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs; saves American drivers money and keeps billions of their dollars in the US versus going to the Middle East; and fights climate change by preventing millions of tons of carbon emissions from getting into our air. Let’s not roll back a winner; let’s let it work to its full potential. We urge the administration to maximise renewable fuel production.”

“This is a good opportunity to remind the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the RFS is designed to get stronger over time, delivering a greater share of renewable energy into our fuel mix,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The agency has proposed cutting RFS targets for 2017, which would needlessly undermine 11 years of progress toward a cleaner environment and a healthier, more secure America. Ethanol producers, retailers and the current auto fleet are 100% capable of providing consumers with a true choice at the pump, and now is certainly not the time to roll back the clock. EPA must get the programme back on track and deliver on the promise of new, more affordable options for consumers.”

“Passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act could not have been possible were it not for the cooperation between the ethanol, agriculture and oil sectors,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “The oil industry needed an off ramp from the use of Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), which was polluting groundwater across the country, and the ethanol industry needed a growth path if farmers were ever to realise the promise of value added markets. Every stakeholder cheered the passage of the legislation, and it was an immediate success. MTBE disappeared as a gasoline additive, investments in US biofuel production soared, farmers saw increased demand for their commodities allowing Congress to dramatically cut farm programme costs, consumers saw pump prices fall as ethanol displaced more expensive oil, and carbon emissions from the transportation sector fell precipitously. All of those benefits continue to this day.”

“The RFS guarantees America’s leadership in the global transition to ethanol, which has cut worldwide carbon emissions 589 million t over the past decade, the equivalent of taking more than 124 million cars off of the road,” said Chip Bowling, President of the National Corn Growers Association. “And thanks to innovation in US agriculture, we are growing more crops on less land than we cultivated when the RFS was first enacted.”

“Simply put, the RFS is delivering on its promise,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council. “Almost every gallon of gasoline in the country now contains renewable fuel. Consumers are gaining access to new biofuel blends that reduce pump prices, increase octane, deliver better performance, and replace cancer-causing gasoline additives like benzene. With cellulosic biofuels – the lowest carbon motor fuel in the world – now coming online, the RFS is driving innovation like we have never seen before in the transportation fuel sector.”

On 8 August 2005, the bipartisan RFS was signed into law by President George W. Bush as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct). The House passed the legislation by a vote of 275 to 156 and the Senate by a vote of 74 to 26. Expanded in 2007, it requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels into new options for consumers at the pump. It has since sparked billions of dollars in US investments and driven America’s emergence as a world leader in renewable technology.

Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle

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