New Renewable Fuel Targets From EPA Are Encouraging, Retain Support For Non-Food Biofuels, Science Group Says

Published Nov 15, 2013

WASHINGTON (November 15, 2014) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its proposed biofuel volume targets for 2014 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The proposal calls for scaling back the overall mandate, including reductions in corn ethanol and advanced biofuels, to account for the slower-than-expected development of cellulosic biofuels and constraints in the fueling infrastructure that make blending more than 10 percent ethanol challenging.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has urged EPA to take this course for the past two years, and believes today’s announcement demonstrates the RFS’s flexibility to adapt to the changing dynamics of our transportation system. According to UCS, the new targets will help ensure that biofuels do not come into conflict with food supplies and allow non-food biofuels to play an important role in cutting oil use. Full details on the UCS position, including policy analysis and fact sheets, are available online.

Below is a statement from Dr. Jeremy Martin, senior scientist in the UCS Clean Vehicles Program:

“It is encouraging to see EPA use its authority to ensure we meet our clean fuel goals without compromising food supplies. The slower pace of cellulosic biofuels commercialization and constrained fueling infrastructure have major bearing on the new targets. These are speed bumps that require us to slow down and proceed with caution, but they are by no means the end of the road for the biofuels or the RFS. Prudence in the next few years will ensure the RFS continues to support the growth of cleaner, non-food cellulosic biofuels and reduced oil use over the longer term.

“We look forward to studying the proposal carefully, and offering EPA comments and analysis on how to strike a balance that recognizes the near term challenges while continuing to make progress on reducing oil use and expanding the production of non-food based biofuels.

“By exercising its authority to administer the RFS in a flexible and pragmatic manner, the agency is sending a clear signal to members of Congress and the oil industry who would seek to repeal or revise the RFS: the policy works as is.

“We have a responsibility to ensure we move towards cleaner fuels that won’t strain food supplies, accelerate agricultural expansion, or drive deforestation. Cellulosic fuels still offer the best bet for replacing large amounts of oil without disrupting our food supplies. The industry is making real progress toward large-scale commercialization. Its gradual growth means non-food biofuels will play a meaningful part in cutting our oil use long term. Today’s announcement will ensure they continue to do so.”