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The Importance of Defending the RFS

By Erin Voegele | July 31, 2012

The renewable fuel standard (RFS) is under attack.

The API has filed challenges against the 2012 and 2011 cellulosic biofuel requirements. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has introduced the Phantom Fuel Reform Act of 2012, which aims to amend the RFS program to base cellulosic volume requirements on current calendar year production estimates. A coalition of meat and poultry producer organizations have filed a waiver petition with the U.S. EPA asking for a waiver, or partial waiver, of the RFS due to the drought’s impact on corn production. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., has introduced legislation seeking to tie RFS volume requirements to USDA corn stock data.

At first glance, these actions might appear to be the fuel ethanol industry’s problem. However, the RFS benefits a wide range of biofuel producers, not just corn-based ethanol producers—or cellulosic ethanol producers for that matter.

The RFS program is a critical component of the U.S. biofuels sector, helping to drive demand for advanced biofuels, as well as conventional biofuels. The program helps ensure markets will be in place for biobased gasoline, renewable diesel, biobutanol, as well as ethanol, cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. Allowing the program to be compromised will not just impact ethanol producers, it would also deal a drastic blow to advanced biofuels companies currently building towards commercial production.  

Advanced Biofuels Association president Michael McAdams, along with leaders of other biofuel trade organizations, once spoke to me about the importance of presenting a united front. While those conversations took place some time ago, the message still resonates. All sectors of the biofuel industry need to stand together to defend the RFS and other programs that are helping to expedite the growth of domestically-produced, biobased fuels.

As members of the same industry , we all need to work together to support the RFS.