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Two House lawmakers plan bill to alter RFS
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Meeting the cellulosic biofuels production mandated via the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) may not happen unless the technology emerges soon to make production of ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks a commercially viable options, according to a new study published by the National Research Council (NRC). Further, the NRC also questioned whether the RFS will indeed reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Link
Facts and figures. With a 36 billion gallon mandate by 2022, and only 15 billion gallons coming from corn-based ethanol, the NRC said meeting the mandates for 4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels and 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels could be in jeopardy.
While consumption mandates for conventional biofuels and biomass-based diesel fuel are expected to be met, the NRC report said "whether and how the mandate for cellulosic biofuels will be met is uncertain." NRC, like most, focused on the fact that currently there are no commercially viable cellulosic production facilities and the capacity to meet those mandates is not there "unless the production process is unexpectedly improved and technologies are scaled up and undergo several commercial-scale demonstrations in the next few years."
"In addition, achieving the renewable fuel standard would increase the federal budget outlays, mostly as a result of increased spending on grants, loans, loan guarantees, and other payments to support the development of cellulosic biofuels and foregone revenue as a result of biofuel tax credits," a release on the report stated. The NRC report also raised the prospect this could also boost food prices and thus government nutrition program costs, but added this caveat: "given that biofuels are only one of many factors affecting food retail prices, it will be hard to attribute any future increases in program costs to the standard alone."
On the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, the NRC report indicated it is "uncertain" just how much biofuels will reduce these emissions compared to just using petroleum. The waded into the controversial area of indirect land use changes and also raised the prospect that producing these crops aimed solely for biofuels production "will probably require conversion of uncultivated land or the displacement of commodity crops and pastures."