National Academies Report on the Renewable Fuel Standard Highlights Need for Long-Term Policy Stability

A new report from the National Academies notes the challenges in commercializing advanced and cellulosic biofuels and concludes that policy stability is necessary to meet the mandates of the Renewable Fuel Standard.</p>

A new report released today by the National Academies concludes that without continued research and development and the construction of pioneering commercial-scale biorefineries to reduce the cost of cellulosic biofuels, the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates for cellulosic biofuels are unlikely to be met. The report also highlights the danger that policy instability will discourage investment in advanced biofuels.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Industrial & Environmental Section, stated, “Over the past four years, advanced biofuel companies have invested a tremendous amount of time, effort and money to commercializing innovative new technologies. There are numerous pilot and demonstration projectsworking to find economical feedstocks, processes and markets for producing not just cellulosic, but also new advanced drop-in biofuels. A few companies have begun construction on the first commercial-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the United States.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard has been the key foundational policy driving the development of advanced biofuels. Long-term stability in its implementation is an effective mechanism in providing market motivation for investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels, as BIO has said in a published white paper.Additional support policies that only recently have been fully implemented – including loan guarantees, payments to farmers who produce advanced feedstocks, and tax credits – provide necessary adjuncts to the RFS. As the National Academies report shows, these policies must remain stable over the long-term in order to meet the goals of the RFS.

“The EPA has conducted a thorough analysis of the lifecycle greenhouse gas benefits of biofuel production. It must quicken its pace in evaluating new advanced drop-in biofuels. While the NAS report says that stable policy is needed to move the ball forward in a meaningful way, the environmental concerns about biofuels raised in the report seem designed to increase policy uncertainty.”