Written by M. Sean High - Staff Attorney
On November 30, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final renewable fuel standards for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016. According to EPA, the new standards are “an important part of the Obama Administration’s strategy to take action on climate change by propelling the U.S. toward a clean energy future.”
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and according to EPA, “is a national policy that requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil or jet fuel.” Importantly, through the passage of the Energy Independence and Security (EIS) Act of 2007, Congress expanded RFS and established annual volume targets for renewable fuel production.
Under EIS, in 2007, Congress established a renewable fuel volume target of 22.25 billion gallons for 2016. In June 2015, however, EPA concluded that Congress’ projections were too ambitious and instead proposed a renewable fuel volume level of 17.4 billion gallons for 2016. According to a reported interview with Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, the “slower-than-expected growth in the nascent cellulosic [grass, corn stalk, wood chip, etc.] ethanol industry meant that the mandate would not be able to realistically meet the levels Congress approved in 2007.” On November 30, 2015, EPA revised its June projections and set the 2016 renewable fuel volume level at 18.11 billion gallons.