Our guest blogger is Center for American Progress Agriculture Policy Director Jake Caldwell.
The Obama administration has been active in recent weeks on several significant advances in biofuels policy. Rural areas will increasingly become both the direct providers of renewable energy and the beneficiaries of a region-by-region clean energy transformation as an increasing number of sustainable biomass and biofuels energy facilities — and the jobs that accompany them — are sited in rural communities. Separately, the EPA announced that it is willing to approve higher blends of ethanol in newer vehicles to allow the use of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline or E15 in our gas tanks. Many of these initiatives reflect and build upon earlier policy recommendations made by the Center for American Progress and others. They are steps in the right direction, but our biofuels policy still needs reform to maximize the economic and environmental benefits to the nation.
The combination of Congress’s RFS mandate to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, the recently announced USDA initiatives, and EPA’s boost in the ethanol blend to E15 for late-model cars and trucks should enable the current biofuels industry to support additional reforms needed in key aspects of biofuels policy:
— Further promotion of advanced biofuels that deliver measurable lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions — USDA should reinstate the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions requirement for feedstocks seeking eligibility in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program — Reform of the federal loan guarantee programs for the construction of biorefineries — Boosting biofuel distribution infrastructure — Elimination of the current import tariff on imported biofuels — A phase-out of the expiring blender’s credit in favor of a variable and performance-based producer tax credit
Biofuels that deliver measurable lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions, minimize the use of food-based feedstocks, and reduce public health and environmental impacts should be encouraged. With the right policy in place we can maximize the benefits of biofuels, and ensure they contribute to greater economic growth, less pollution, and reduced oil dependence.
Read more at “Fine Tuning Our Biofuels Policy.”