Bush Administration Establishes Program to Reduce Foreign Oil Dependency, Greenhouse Gases
In step with the Bush Administration’s call to increase the supply of alternative and renewable fuels nationwide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today established the nation’s first comprehensive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
At a press conference today, EPA Administrator Johnson, joined by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Nicole Nason, discussed the RFS program, increasing the use of alternative fuels and modernizing CAFÉ standards for cars.
“The Renewable Fuel Standard offers the American people a hat trick – it protects the environment, strengthens our energy security, and supports America’s farmers,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Today, we’re taking an important first step toward meeting President Bush’s “20 in 10” goal of jumping off the treadmill of foreign oil dependency.”
“Increasing the use of renewable and alternative fuels to power our nation’s vehicles will help meet the President’s Twenty in Ten goal of reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent in ten years,” Secretary Bodman said. “The Administration’s sustained commitment to technology investment will bring a variety of alternative fuel sources to market and further reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.”
“While we must look at increasing the availability of renewable and alternative fuels, we must also continue to improve the fuel efficiency of our passenger cars and light trucks,” said Nicole R. Nason, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “As a part of the President’s “20 in 10” energy security plan, we need Congress to give the Secretary of Transportation the authority to reform the current passenger car fuel economy standard.”
Authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the RFS program requires that the equivalent of at least 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into motor vehicle fuel sold in the U.S. by 2012. The program is estimated to cut petroleum use by up to 3.9 billion gallons and cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 13.1 million metric tons by 2012 -- the equivalent of preventing the emissions of 2.3 million cars. The RFS is an important first step toward meeting President Bush’s call on our nation to reduce gasoline use by 20-percent within 10 years by growing our renewable and alternative fuel use to 35 billion gallons by the year 2017.
The RFS program will promote the use of fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are largely produced from American crops. The program will create new markets for farm products, increase energy security, and promote the development of advanced technologies that will help make renewable fuel cost-competitive with conventional gasoline. In particular, the RFS program establishes special incentives for producing and using fuels produced from cellulosic biomass, such as switchgrass and woodchips.
The RFS program requires major American refiners, blenders, and importers to use a minimum volume of renewable fuel each year between 2007 and 2012. The minimum level or “standard” which is determined as a percentage of the total volume of fuel a company produces or imports, will increase every year. For 2007, 4.02 percent of all the fuel sold or dispensed to U.S. motorists will have to come from renewable sources, roughly 4.7 billion gallons.
The RFS program is based on a trading system that provides a flexible means for industry to comply with the annual standard by allowing renewable fuels to be used where they are most economical. Various renewable fuels can be used to meet the requirements of the program. While the RFS program establishes that a minimum amount of renewable fuel be used in the United States, more fuel can be used if producers and blenders choose to do so.
The RFS brings the nation closer to President Bush’s Twenty in Ten goal to reduce gasoline consumption 20 percent in ten years. To achieve this goal, the Bush Administration’s Alternative Fuel Standard (AFS) proposal builds on the RFS and requires use of 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 - nearly five times the RFS target of 2012. The AFS proposal will displace 15 percent of projected annual gasoline use in 2017 through the use of fuels, including corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, methanol, butanol, hydrogen, and other alternative fuels. The Twenty in Ten plan also calls for reforming and modernizing CAFÉ standards to increase the fuel economy of cars. This will reduce projected annual gasoline use by up to 8.5 billion gallons, a further 5 percent reduction that will bring the total reduction in projected annual gasoline use to 20 percent. President Bush has called on Congress to act on these proposals by the start of the summer driving season this year.
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