Climate change legislation should not subject biofuels to double jeopardy in greenhouse gas emission regulation, since they are already regulated under the Renewable Fuel Standard, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
BIO released a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, asking that recently drafted cap-and-trade legislation be amended to clearly state that biofuels, including the biofuel component of fuel blends, are not obligated under the emissions cap because they are already regulated under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
When it comes to climate change legislation, Congress has focused a great deal of attention on stationary emission sources, such as coal-fired power plants. We cannot, however, achieve a low-carbon future without biofuels, because biofuels can play a key role in reducing direct CO2 emissions from the transportation sector. While fossil fuels release carbon that has been stored deep underground for millions of years into the atmosphere, biofuels recycle atmospheric carbon. In some cases, biomass production can sequester more carbon in the soil than is released into the atmosphere through biofuel combustion. Biofuels should therefore not be treated in the same manner as fossil fuels under any climate change cap-and-trade legislation.
Currently drafted legislation to regulate carbon emissions leaves some ambiguity as to whether the biofuels component of fuel blends is counted under the cap. Biofuels are mandated by the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to achieve substantial lifecycle greenhouse gas improvements compared to petroleum-based fuels. The performance standards contained in the RFS ensure the climate benefit of future biofuels production. Any effort to place tailpipe emissions of biofuels under the CO2 cap would therefore impose a double greenhouse gas emissions compliance obligation on biofuels.—Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section