Since 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard has regulated the minimum volume of renewable fuel that must be contained in transportation fuel sold in the United States.
Over the past several months, Assemblymember Kristin Olsen has been calling for the reduction of these standards, noting that they are nearly impossible to achieve and negatively affecting dairies in California.
The Environmental Protection Agency, who oversees the RFS, has proposed easing the annual RFS requirement for ethanol in gasoline, acknowledging that the current mandated levels specified in a 2007 law are difficult to meet – a move that Assemblymember Olsen has publicly applauded.
“This is a tremendous move in the right direction and I am elated that the EPA has recognized the unrealistic expectations of the current mandate,” said Olsen. “I’m looking forward to the relief our dairies will experience and am hopeful it will help them regain solid footing in providing for their livestock and our nation’s food supply.”
Earlier this fall, Olsen passed her Assembly Joint Resolution 21 through the California legislature, providing a clear message to Congress that California lawmakers are in support of eliminating corn-based ethanol requirements.
AJR 21 also calls for capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline, and urging the EPA to transition away from biofuel sources that compete with food production.
The RFS program was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, establishing the first renewable fuel volume mandate in the United States.
The original RFS program required 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into gasoline by 2012. In 2007, the RFS was expanded to increase the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. The 2007 law also established new categories of renewable fuel, setting separate volume requirements for each one.
With the price of corn and ethanol increasing dramatically over the past 8 years, Olsen says that California has lost an average of six dairies per month for the last six years as a result.
The current RFS mandate requiring 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be part of the nations fuel supply by 2022 is almost completely being fulfilled by corn ethanol. In 2011, nearly 40-percent of the nation’s corn crop was used strictly for ethanol.
The new proposal is just under 10-percent of motor fuel and 14-percent lower than the 2007 targets established by Congress. With the new proposal by the EPA setting ethanol use at 15.21 billion gallons, Olsen believes the EPA is getting on the right track.
“This is great news and a remarkable win for our dairies, agriculture, restaurants and grocery stores,” said Olsen.
The EPA has announced a hearing set for Dec. 5 in Washington, D.C., where interested parties can provide comments on the proposed volume requirements and associated percentage standards that would apply under the RFS2 program in 2014.