The Wall Street Journal printed a few weeks ago a severely misinformed opinion piece about the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Journal echoed remarks made by a representative of the National Petroleum Refiners Association at a recent EPA hearing on the proposed RFS rules for 2012, at which BIO also testified.
NPRA claims that the RFS’s cellulosic waiver is a penalty that they have to pay for a product that doesn’t exist. However, BIO argued that cellulosic biofuel gallons are being produced, but the RFS rules protect blenders and refiners from having to purchase them at too high a cost.
BIO’s testimony was based on a white paper recently published in Industrial Biotechnology journal and posted on BIO.org. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has for three years consistently set the cellulosic biofuel mandate at an achievable level, based on a careful survey of producers’ intentions and according to formulas set out in the original law. The Cellulosic Waiver Credit allows refiners and blenders to purchase the lowest cost advanced renewable fuel as an alternative to the gallons of cellulosic biofuels.
This clear, transparent mechanism provides price certainty for all obligated parties as well as cellulosic biofuel producers. The RFS rules ensure that if biofuel producers can produce cellulosic and advanced biofuels at a competitive cost, the market will be open to them. This is a vital mechanism for opening up a fuel market dominated by petroleum. And in fact, forward-looking oil companies are investing in cellulosic biofuels. BP, through Vercipia, is building a commercial facility, and small companies such as INEOS Bio have also broken ground.
Consistent maintenance of the Renewable Fuel Standard is a much needed assurance to the innovators and investors trying to make large-scale commercial production of advanced and cellulosic biofuels a reality. BIO’s white paper accurately explains the waiver credit mechanism for anyone interested in checking the facts.