On October 1, a large coalition of bio-renewable fuel stakeholders—among them, domestic growers and manufacturers, national security organizations, and renewable energy providers— came out in defense of America's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
The new group, Fuels America, is taking an active role in lobbying for “the economic, employment, domestic renewable energy and national security benefits that [bio-renewable fuel] provides,” even as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers a request to waive the RFS .
Originally adopted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the RFS called for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be used in U.S. transportation fuel supply by 2022.
Image courtesy of Fuels America.
Each year, the EPA sets an overall volumetric target for renewable fuel based on statutory thresholds and anticipated gasoline consumption nationwide—as well as specific targets for advanced, cellulosic, and biomass-based diesel fuels, each of which must be derived from renewable feedstocks and must meet specified greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Almost all of the future growth in the RFS will be in advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol.
Fuels America has pointed out that the RFS is reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil by making clean, homegrown renewable fuels a part of America’s transportation fuel mix—with the following advances made recently:
• Since 2000, renewable fuel has helped reduce oil imports from the Persian Gulf by 25 percent;
• Renewable fuel currently provides 10 percent of America’s fuel needs – and that amount is growing;
• The U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture have estimated that there is enough biomass in America to replace nearly one-third of the country’s gasoline with renewable fuel by 2030; and
• Almost two-thirds of future RFS volumes are allocated for advanced renewable fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, which is made from next-generation feedstocks, including agricultural waste.
Further, the coalition has stated, “The RFS is strengthening rural communities, driving economic growth and supporting more than 400,000 jobs nationwide”—supported by the claims:
• The RFS has spurred billions of dollars of investment in advanced and conventional renewable fuel.
• Renewable fuel has driven a $500 billion increase in America’s farm assets since 2007.
• In 2011, gas prices were reduced by $1.09 per gallon and the average American household saved $1,200 on gas bill, as a result of renewable fuel, according to independent studies.
”Fuels America is built around one core idea: renewable fuel is essential to the U.S. economy, our nation's energy security, our rural communities and the environment, stated Jim Greenwood, president and CEO, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), adding, “More than 400,000 American jobs are supported by renewable transportation fuel, and America leads the world in renewable fuel innovation. That is why Fuels America's diverse membership has come together to reset the national conversation on renewable fuel, protect the progress that has been made and ensure that America's Renewable Fuel Standard continues its success.”
Fuels America members include: 25x25, Abengoa Bioenergy, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), Advanced Ethanol Council, and American Coalition for Ethanol, American Security Project, Biotechnology Industry Organization, (BIO), DuPont, Growth Energy, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, Novozymes, POET Ethanol Products and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
The Fuels America campaign will be a national effort, including advertising—beginning in Washington, DC, and the States of Colorado, Ohio, Delaware and Montana. Each state will have its own online platform reachable through FuelsAmerica.org and feature the stories of renewable fuel innovators and communities with a stake in maintaining the RFS.
In Colorado, Jim Imbler, president and CEO of Lakewood -based ZeaChem Inc., commented, “Renewable fuel matters to everyone …from farmers in the eastern part of the state to researchers at our universities and entrepreneurs in our clean tech economy. ZeaChem has grown from an innovative idea for producing cellulosic fuel to a scaled operation ready to manufacture. The investor certainty created by the Renewable Fuel Standard is essential to our continued growth, and to the growth of other advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals companies like ours.”
Members of the Fuels America coalition also stressed that renewable fuel plays a central role in increasing America's energy independence. Since 2000, domestically-grown renewable fuel has contributed to a 25 percent reduction in oil imports from the Persian Gulf, making the nation more energy independent and driving down prices at the pump. Americans saved $50 billion on imported fuel costs in 2011 thanks to renewable fuel.
“America's energy security and national security depend on expanding our renewable fuel sector, stated Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn (Ret.), president of ACORE. “The renewable fuel innovation we have seen across the country since the RFS was created is helping break America's dependence on foreign oil and giving our armed forces new assets on the battlefield. Protecting America's Renewable Fuel Standard will protect that progress, improve our country's energy security and protect our men and women in uniform.”
Coalition members noted that the rapidly emerging advanced renewable fuel sector has benefited directly from the RFS, with advanced facilities now producing fuel in Florida, Louisiana, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
“The Renewable Fuel Standard has created billions in investment and created hundreds of thousands of careers,' said Adam Monroe, president of Novozymes North America. 'If the RFS is altered or undermined, companies like ours will have to make tough choices about where to put our long-term dollars. Keeping those dollars, and the jobs they will continue to create, in America means keeping the RFS in place. It's a market-based signal to innovators and investors - and it works.'
According to the EPA website, two fuel waivers have been issued during 2012:
On September 4, 2012, EPA waived requirements for use of low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) "summertime" gasoline in the following states, through the end of the high ozone period on September 15, 2012: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
On August 28, 2012, EPA issued an emergency waiver, through September 6, 2012, of the federal 7.8 psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) in the following 14 Louisiana parishes: Ascension, E. Baton Rouge, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Point Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. Mary and W. Baton Rouge.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman