Biofuel Leaders Discuss the Future of the RFS and “The Set”

The Environmental Protection Agency is quickly approaching its deadline to propose a multi-year rule called “The Set.” The rule will establish a new baseline growth in low-carbon biofuels. Several national farm and biofuel leaders held a webinar to discuss the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard and biofuels. Jon Doggett, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, says a strong “Set Rule” will build on the success established through the RFS.

“We are sequestering a lot of carbon as we’re producing the feedstock that goes into ethanol. So, we’re producing corn, and a lot of our farmers are saying, ‘I can prove that I’m producing corn with a zero-carbon footprint.’ We couldn’t have done that many years ago, and we’re doing it today. So that allows ethanol to have a much lower carbon footprint than we did, even ten years ago. So, what we have now is, we have ethanol that is in the marketplace today, that can be used in the vehicle you own today, and it really is a great benefit to the consumer, to the environment, and certainly very helpful to rural America, because we’ve seen the storefronts get that plywood off the front, and we’ve seen more vitality in our rural communities.”

Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, says a strong Set Rule can jumpstart the Biden administration’s decarbonization goals.

“We think EPA has an enormous opportunity with this rulemaking process to further decarbonize our nation’s transportation fuels, and again, I want to remind everyone that the RFS is the only statutory program on the books today that requires fuel decarbonization. I mean, we’ve got tailpipe standards, we have fuel economy standards, but those are focused on vehicles and engines. We have stationary source programs that focus on emissions from fuel production facilities and other manufacturing, but the RFS is truly the only program that forces reductions in the carbon intensity of the fuels themselves.”

The RFS is already making a big impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions according to Cooper. “The RFS has already delivered substantial greenhouse gas emission savings. Renewable fuels like ethanol are already delivering very significant carbon intensity reductions. Through last year, the RFS, really since 2008, is responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 billion tons. One billion tons of carbon reduction under the RFS since 2008, and that is far more than what EPA envisioned when they had implemented the RFS two rules back in 2009-2010.”

Donnell Rehagen is the CEO of Clean Fuels Alliance America. He says biomass-based diesel fuel has benefits that go beyond just the environment.

“Many of our fuels bring higher volumes of GHG reduction, and that biodiesel being among those. But beyond just the carbon benefits, we’re very proud of the fact that we are having some very positive impacts on human health as well. Particulate matter is increasingly a significant factor in declining of human health. And so, our fuels bring a significant reduction in the particulate matter as well, and I think that’s something very valuable and worth remembering. So, it’s not just the environmental benefits, not just the GHG reductions, but the impacts we can have on human health.”

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