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New US Legislation Proposes 60 Billion Gallon Renewable Fuel Standard

On the first day of the new Congress, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE), Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) and Barack Obama (D-IL) introduced legislation that proposes a new federal renewable fuels standard (RFS) of 60 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel by 2030.

The current RFS specifies 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2012. (Earlier post.) Based on forecasts of fuel consumption of approximately 198 billion gallons of gasoline equivalent in 2030, the 60 billion RFS would work out to approximately 30% of the fuel required.

The Department of Energy, when it outlined its Billion-Ton Vision for biofuels in 2005, projected that fuels from biomass could supply 20% of transportation needs in 2030. (Earlier post.)

The new legislation—the BioFuels Security Act of 2007—calls for boosting ethanol and biodiesel production to 30 billion gallons annually by 2020, and then doubling that quantity over the following ten years to meet the 60 billion gallon target by 2030.

The bill also calls for increasing the number of gasoline stations that carry blends of 85% ethanol (E85). The bill would require large oil companies to install E85 pumps at their stations, increasing by five percentage points annually over the next 10 years, resulting in approximately 50% percent of all major brand gasoline stations nationwide having E85 pumps available within a decade.

The bill directs automakers to gradually increase flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) production, increasing in ten percentage-point increments annually, until nearly all vehicles sold in the US are FFVs within 10 years. Currently, flex-fuel vehicles make up only about two percent of vehicles on the road.



A good Idea, I hope it goes forward. It will probably fall apart just like all the plans in the 70's did.


Increase FFVs by mandating them and getting rid of the CAFE loophole.

fyi CO2

Oh, let's talk about 10-fold increases and worry about the input details later. Sorry to see Obama still has a pipe (dream). Drop the CAFE loophole and raise the CAFE penalties for oversized/overpowered consumption below 26 mpg.

Bike Commuter Dude

Minnesota ALREADY has mandated 20% ethanol in fuel by 2013. Currently, though, only 2% biodiesel, which leaves, oh, 98% room for improvement!


This and similarly targeted plans are scams. If the goal is to reduce petroleum use the simple effective way to do it is to tax petroleum.

But the scam artist in congress know that higher petroleum price will cost them votes and so the scam. We do not even know if e85 is an effective way to reduce petroleum use and the more tax money or mandates that go into e85 production the less likely it is to be effective, simply because if 1 gallon of $2.00/gallon diesel fuel can be turned into a nine tenths of a gallon of $3.00/gallon ethanol people will do it every time.

If the goal is to reduce petroleum import a tariff is the way to go.

If the goal is to reduce co2 emissions a co2 emissions tax teamed with a payout to those who remove co2 from the atmosphere is the ways to achieve that.

Simple, straight forward and politically unachievable. Congress is such a bunch of *%#$#%! The fact is that the politicians are not interested in any of the goals I stated, they are just interested in placating the people.


We can not get much above E5 nationwide with corn ethanol. So, that leaves cellulose, which is still to be proven on a large scale. I think they have to see if and how we could do this before they mandate. I know this is just a proposal, but I would rather see FFVs mandated and eliminate the E85 loophole for CAFE. That is possible and more progressive.


Each gallon of ethanol lets a driver only go 2/3 the distance of a gallon of gas. And up to now the amount of energy to produce a gallon of ethanol is almost the energy equivalent that the ethanol will produce.
This is a real pork barrel scam!


We all know the limitation of ethanol. This does include bio-diesel which can be made from algae which makes the target a little less rediculous. I'd like to see all gas at E10 (cellulosic) and all diesel replaced by bio-diesel. The best way to get there is carbon taxes. Now we just need to convince the greedy,spoiled and ignorant to accept them.


This kind of legislation is just grand-standing! It's the Democrats version of Bush's Freedom Fuel program: all show and no substance.
As stated by many above, reducing petroleum use is easy: increase CAFE, get rid of the SUV loophole in CAFE.

Sid Hoffman

Did they forget about our water supply? From what I've read, there isn't enough fresh water in the whole of the United States to sustain such levels of crop-to-fuel production. I'd rather they focus on conservation of fuel rather than wasting our water to let us continue to waste fuel too.

An Engineer

As noted in today's New York Times, we may already be running short on the necessary corn to supply all the new ethanol plants. Considering that in 2005, we used about 14% of the corn harvest to produce enough ethanol to replace ~1% of our oil use, using 100% of the corn harvest maxes out our oil replacement at 7%. So 30% is pure pie in the sky.

It is obvious what is happening here: the powerful agricultural lobby is getting subsidies for making corn more expensive, while the rest of us is getting spanked.


These politicians are narrow minded. C2H5OH and methyl/ethyl esters are fine now, but in the next 10-20 yrs, 2nd and 3rd Gen renewable biofuels will arrive on the market. They might have:
a) superior EROEI
b) yield per area
c) energy density (volumetric and mass)
d) physical, and combustion properties.
Thay may also be cheaper, and more sustainable.
__The current dominant biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) are suitable as fuel additives. However, limiting ourselves to biodiesel and ethanol, will crowd out better products and processes.


By 2030 what a joke. Technology will change so much by then any figures they make today will be garbage . Bush does not care about the envoirment so getting anything Done will be next to impossible. So they will make bold stuipid statements like this one to make it seem like there doing something.


Politics as usual. There is no political downside for these guys in advocating something decades away.

These are just Senators trying to lock in ethanol and biofuel subsidies and giveaways for contributors. Biden from Maryland favors anything that seems green.

It is five years until 2012 even begins. But the 2012 goal is already not good enough? No, we have to set a goal for 2030.


As second and third gen bio fuels come along couldnt these plants be upgraded and or converted?Could subsidies be offset by cuts in farm subsidies?Couldnt that help world trade talks?Continued use of farm products could be continued on a limited scale in the future to support necessary agriculture and balance food prices and price support for farmers.Can we look for solutions?Dang Im encouraged by dem initiatives.The perfect path to alternatives will never be agreed to.If the dems move this ball I may vote dem next time.


I would hope that RFS means that they specify a percentage of transportation fuels that are renewable, define renewable and let things happen. Mandating a certain percentage of a certain fuel could be "fuelish":)


Obama has just answered my question. Should I support Obama in 2008? No. He is a fresh new face who is totally in bed with the old "solutions", those that increase supply without touching demand. Does he have a clue as to what we are going to be eating in 2030? Apparently not. There is no free lunch folks, and lunch is going to get a helluva lot more expensive when all the corn goes to ethanol.

What politician will have the intelligence and courage to tell the American people the truth about fuel? I'm still waiting.


t: LOL

Bush (a man without either courage or intelligence) has already told Americans they're addicted to oil. Doubt you'll vote for him though.


I would tend to say that a form of C02 taxation would be the most effective method of altering the fuel playing field. IMHO, taxing the fuels in different ways would be the most effective course of action. For example:

1. Don't tax biodiesel or ethanol due to the fact that they are CO2 neutral (in theory).

2.Tax traditional oil products so that their renewable alternatives are price competitive.

At least you could logically justify ^that^ scheme...


From what you all are saying, it seems we are doomed. Ethanol won't help us. Biodiesel won't help much either. Along with that, solar doesn't have the efficiency to provide the energy we need. Many people don't like nuclear. We're out of options. What I am gathering from this thread is that nothing can stop our demise. I have visited GCC over the last several months to learn of solutions to our oil. I am often encouraged by what is said. But this one is a real downer.


It takes all the things we can think of and more to slow the problem. 150 billion gallons per year of fuel is a large problem to tackle. That is why we need an all encompassing approach to the problem and not just someones favorite pet project. We need a real energy policy that works together as a system and not just give aways to old rich friends.


Does appear like grandstanding from the usual suspects. But Congress at least is thinking about homegrown fuel along with imports. The conversion to flex fuels MUST be accompanied by better CAFE standards. 2030 is a long way off. Don't think we have seen good numbers on 25 year projections, e.g.

What about the reduction in fuel consumption based on adoption of diesel, smaller ICE, hybrid, PHEV vehicles?

What about the increase $$ in petro/barrel due to lower demand, instability, production costs? Four dollar gas from market or tax is strong medicine for guzzlers.

What happens when in ten years there is a 250 mile per charge mass produced BEV selling for $20k?

If these mandates help push biodiesel investment in algal oil from bioreactors and other sources - great!! But alt energy sales come from solutions lowering consumption as well as controlling emissions, increased efficiency and better security.


If the "flex" doesn't include "elecs", it's a dead end.  I'm astounded that this is being given such short shrift.


This kind of planning is clearly unrealistic. In last 25 years corn production in US increased from about 7 to close to 11 billion bushels per year. Assuming better cultivation, highly GM corn with lower water and fertilizer demand and better yield, increased acreage(which is a big question), lets hope US can sustain same growth for another 25 years. It will yield 16 B bushels. Increased population and increased export demand will not allow to allocate all surplus to fuel ethanol. Let us assume that half of increased production will be allocated for corn ethanol, it will be 4 B bushels versus current 1.5 B used for ethanol, or about 2.7 times of current production, or 13 B gallons of ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol is not ready for mass production, and any way will not yield anything comparable to corn ethanol. Biodiesel production does not even come close. Where the hell politicians hope to get another 40 B gallons?

An Engineer:

As I know, in 2006 ethanol substituted about 3% of gasoline demand in US – on energy basis. It puts ethanol as substitute for close to 2% of US oil demand, not 1%.


There is no silver bullet for such a big problem as transportation fuels. Couple per cent here and there: biofuels, CTL, NG, HEV, PHEV, clean diesel, other fuel efficient technologies, plus increased domestic drilling offshore, oil sands and shale, ultimately methane hydrates – all together will do the trick. Hopefully.


We just have to accept that most Americans are going to have to give up the "right" to drive SUV's and other fuel consuming transport someday.
Correct me if I am wrong but didn't humanity use eco friendly and carbon neutral built wind powered shipping for about the last 9,000 years known. Also methane polluting animal transport, and not to mention our feet?
As always transport will be a right reserved only for the rich. Weather it be a carriage or 4 slaves carrying you on a chair. Or some hydrogen powered technological wonder we have not come up with yet. not everyone in the future is going to have a it is today. Resources, including renewable ones, are in short supply. It will boil down to who controls them, and who can afford them. Just like it always has through out history!

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