Over its 10-year lifespan, the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS’) requirement to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced US transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons, according to a new analysis released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
To develop its estimates, BIO utilized the GREET1.2013 model to compare carbon emissions from the mixture of US transportation fuels (both petroleum and biofuel) under two scenarios. The first scenario applied the annual required RFS Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) percentages, as established by EPA rulemakings, to the volumes of fossil-based, non-renewable gasoline and diesel used in the United States. To establish a second scenario, BIO assumed that corn ethanol and soy biodiesel would have continued to meet just over 3% of the total reported transportation fuel use over the decade and that petroleum gasoline and diesel would have been used instead.
|RFS1 and RFS2|
|President George W. Bush signed the RFS into law by on August 8, 2005 as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.|
|The first version of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS1) called for annual increases in production and use of biofuels through 2012.|
|Congress updated and expanded the program (RFS2) in December 2007 to more aggressively increase use of biofuels through 2022 and to promote commercialization of advanced biofuels.|
GREET1.2013 utilizes 2012 average estimates of the carbon emissions of gasoline, diesel, corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol, soy biodiesel and corn stover cellulosic ethanol. BIO assumed that the volumes of various fuels in the fuel mix generated these average emissions each year over the entire decade.
Under the second, market-force driven scenario, BIO found that even if biofuel use had increased to 5.4% through market forces alone (reaching the level envisioned under RFS1), the measured reductions in carbon emissions attributable to having the RFS program in place would be more than 390 million metric tons.
The major findings of the study include:
Over its 10-year lifespan, the Renewable Fuel Standard has reduced US transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons.
The total reduction is equivalent to removing more than 124 million cars from the road over the decade.
The RFS has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of oil over the past decade by replacing fossil fuels with homegrown biofuels.
EPA’s recent proposed rules for the RFS would cut short achievable future carbon emission reductions. In 2015 alone, the proposal would add 19.6 million tons of CO2e for the year, equal to putting 7.3 million cars back on the road, compared with achievable levels of biofuel use.
The Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law ten years ago this month by President George W. Bush. The law’s purpose was to end America’s addiction to oil, reduce reliance on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The RFS program has demonstrably achieved those goals. The total reduction in carbon emissions achieved under the program is equal to removing more than 124 million cars from the road over the decade.
It is unfortunate that the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed issuing new rules for the program and is now proposing to halt growth in the biofuel market. The agency’s delay will continue to allow fossil fuels to be used when cleaner, lower carbon biofuels are available, reversing some of the progress made in the past ten years.—Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section