In the six years that have passed since the Energy Independence and Security Act was signed, authorizing the Renewable Fuel Standard, ethanol interests say the policy has made great strides in minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and growing renewable fuel consumption.
In a brief report summarizing the impacts of the RFS released last week, the Renewable Fuel Association says progress has been made in achieving objectives of the expanded RFS.
"Renewable fuel production and consumption has grown dramatically. Dependence on petroleum—particularly imports of refined products—is down significantly," explained RFA President Bob Dinneen.
"Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector have fallen. The value of agricultural products is up appreciably," Dinneen continued, "and communities across the country have benefited from the job creation, increased tax revenue, and heightened household income that stems from the construction and operation of a biorefinery."
The EISA bill was passed by the Senate on a vote of 86-6 and the House on a vote of 314-100. Its expanded RFS required rapid growth in the consumption of renewable fuels, culminating in 36 billion gallons in 2022. In addition, the law required renewable fuels to meet certain environmental performance thresholds and created specific categories for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.
And, RFA claims in its report, the potential negatives to the program have not been realized.
"Agricultural land use continues to shrink, the Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' continues to contract, deforestation rates continue to fall, and food price inflation has followed historical trends," Dinneen said.
The report comes as critics of the RFS continue calls to end the program, citing concerns about its effect on natural market movements and corn prices. The Environmental Protection Agency last month proposed lower mandated volumes for the program in 2014.
Dineen, however, doesn't support the move.
"We must fight hard to protect the advances this country has made under the RFS toward energy independence and economic security," he said. "We are fighting for the future while Big Oil and Big Food fight selfishly to protect their profit margins."
View the RFA report here.