U.S. EPA Establishes Nation’s First Renewable Fuel Standard

On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the nation’s first comprehensive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, which increases the use of alternative fuels and modernizes Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars. The RFS program requires major American refiners, blenders, and importers to use a minimum volume of renewable fuel each year between 2007 and 2012.

The minimum level or “standard” which is determined as a percentage of the total volume of fuel a company produces or imports, will increase every year. For 2007, 4.02 percent of all the fuel sold or dispensed to U.S. motorists will have to come from renewable sources, roughly 4.7 billion gallons. Authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the RFS program requires that the equivalent of at least 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into motor vehicle fuel sold in the U.S. by 2012. The program is estimated to cut petroleum use by up to 3.9 billion gallons and cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 13.1 million metric tons by 2012 — the equivalent of preventing the emissions of 2.3 million cars. “The Renewable Fuel Standard offers the American people a hat trick — it protects the environment, strengthens our energy security, and supports America’s farmers,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. In keeping with President Bush’s call to reduce gasoline use by 20-percent within 10 years, the RFS program will promote the use of fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are largely produced from American crops. The program will also create new markets for farm products, increase energy security, and promote the development of advanced technologies that will help make renewable fuel cost-competitive with conventional gasoline. In particular, the RFS program establishes special incentives for producing and using fuels produced from cellulosic biomass, such as switchgrass and woodchips. Nicole R. Nason, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said, “As a part of the President’s “20 in 10″ energy security plan, we need Congress to give the Secretary of Transportation the authority to reform the current passenger car fuel economy standard.” “Increasing the use of renewable and alternative fuels to power our nation’s vehicles will help meet the President’s Twenty in Ten goal of reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent in ten years,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.
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