RFS 2.0

The passage of the Renewable Fuels Standard 15 years ago was probably the most significant event in the development of the biofuels industry in this country.  It was intended to help establish a domestic fuel industry and help reduce our dependence on foreign energy while providing needed markets for farmers.  Despite numerous and ongoing attacks and attempts to dismantle the law, the RFS when administered as intended has been a success.  Perhaps it is a victim of its own success.  The oil industry continues to fight it at every turn and even when the courts support it, EPA has often refused to uphold it.  It’s as though Washington isn’t used to having something it has passed work so well! Still for the biofuels industry to continue it has to look beyond the RFS especially as the state of California is trying to move away from the use of gasoline powered vehicles. We may now have a better idea what that next step will be.  The recent introduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act would among other things, raise the octane requirements in our fuel supply.  Ethanol is the fuel that can do that while also providing a low carbon fuel that helps reduce greenhouse gases.  Geoff Cooper, President & CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association calls it a potential game changer for ethanol.  Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol says that with some revisions to the low carbon component of the bill, it could have an even more profound impact on the biofuels industry than the RFS had.  Of course the bill has a long ways to go.  Given the crowed Congressional agenda in a Presidential election year along with COVID 19 and an opening on the Supreme Court, there’s probably no chance the bill moves this year.  That’s not all bad however as it allows time for some improvements to be made before it is reintroduced next year.  Then with the election behind us we’ll have a better idea of the direction of energy policy in this country moving forward. No doubt the country is probably headed in a greener direction and biofuels can and should play a major role in that energy policy.  The Next Generation Fuels Act could help biofuels producers build upon the foundation established by the Renewable Fuels Standard.  Of course if that does happen look for oil refiners to start lining up for waivers!