WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2014 – The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today released a menu of 40 policy options for reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The package has been in development since last fall, informed by discussions held with members of an advisory group and other stakeholders throughout the year.
The advisory group included officials from the major oil companies as well as academia, companies such as Walmart and Boeing, as well as the National Farmers Union, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In its report, the BPC noted that since the RFS was first passed into law in 2005, domestic biofuels production has increased and renewable fuels have increased as a percentage of the total U.S. transportation fuels supply. At the same time, legal challenges and changes in the U.S. energy production have kept RFS at the forefront of energy policy discussions. A further indicator that improvements to the RFS are needed is the EPA’s recently announced additional delay in the announcement of compliance volume requirements for 2014, the BPC said.
“However, experience with the program has not led to a consensus on what, if anything, should be done,” the BPC said in the report. “For some time, there have been strong advocates on both sides of the debate calling for either outright repeal of the RFS or holding firm on the existing requirements. The Bipartisan Policy Center chose to explore a middle ground where we think tangible progress can be made to reform—but not repeal—the RFS.”
The BPC said the options presented in the report do not represent a consensus of the advisory group, but are intended as a “first step in exploring the ways in which constructive reform could create a more robust and effective RFS program.”
Here’s a selection of some of the policy options presented in the report:
--Expand the definition of cellulosic biofuel, such as by including wastes and residues.
--Allow exports of biofuels to meaningfully contribute to the RFS program.
--Convert all mandated volumes to percentage mandates.
--Create a mandate for ethanol based on percentage of consumption, in addition to the volumetric RFS mandate categories.
--Implement automatic consequences if EPA fails to meet statutory deadlines, especially for setting the annual volumes.
--Establish explicit methodologies for setting the annual volumes.
--Create an education campaign to inform consumers about new fuels, flex-fuel stations, and which engines can handle which blends.
The BPC was founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell. On its website, the BPC describes itself as a “non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue.”
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