New EPA Proposal for Electric Vehicles a Necessary Step to Modernize the Renewable Fuel Standard

Statement by Jeremy Martin, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Dec 1, 2022

WASHINGTON (December 1, 2022)—Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule that would update the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to allow electric vehicles to benefit from the standard. The proposal would enable biomethane, which is already an approved fuel under the RFS, to be used to generate electricity that can charge vehicles. When finalized, this change should align the RFS with the current and future vehicle marketplace, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS.)

Below is a statement by Jeremy Martin, director of fuels policy and senior scientist for the Clean Transportation Program at UCS.

“With today’s proposal, EPA is moving forward with a long-delayed pathway for fueling vehicles. Using methane from landfills and agricultural waste to generate electricity will reduce methane pollution and power electric vehicles. By finalizing RFS pathways that support this process, EPA would modernize the RFS program.

“In 2014, the EPA recognized biomethane as a fuel source eligible to be covered under the RFS, including electricity produced from biomethane, and sought additional comment in 2016. But for eight years, in practice this pathway was only available for biomethane burned directly in an internal combustion engine. With this proposal EPA is moving to finally implement pathways that would allow the RFS to also apply to electric vehicles charged by biomethane-generated electricity. The proposal offers a number of potential mechanisms for how this could work and recognizes the growing importance of electrification to the transportation system.

“The proposal is still very much a work in progress, and scientists and environmental advocates should weigh in through the public comment process to make sure any changes to the RFS move us in the right direction. The rules should be designed to reduce climate impacts and other environmental burdens.

“EPA had a challenging task to modernize the program within the bounds set by the 2007 law that created the standard. Renewable electricity from wind and solar power should also be eligible, and methane from landfills and livestock manure should be reduced in more comprehensive and sustainable ways than are possible through incentives for bioenergy. But that’s outside the bounds of the RFS. While there’s a lot more work to do on transportation fuel policy, the next steps must be taken by Congress, which needs to revise the law to encourage a wider and more sustainable range of fuels.”