EPA establishes program to reduce foreign oil dependency
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the nation’s first comprehensive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
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 United States 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 RFS is an important step toward reducing gasoline use by 20 percent within 10 years by growing renewable and alternative fuel use to 35 billion gallons by the year 2017.
The RFS program will promote the use of fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are largely produced from American crops. The program will 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.
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 United States motorists will have to come from renewable sources, roughly 4.7 billion gallons.
The RFS program is based on a trading system that provides a flexible means for industry to comply with the annual standard by allowing renewable fuels to be used where they are most economical.
Various renewable fuels can be used to meet the requirements of the program. While the RFS program establishes that a minimum amount of renewable fuel be used in the United States, more fuel can be used if producers and blenders choose to do so.