New Analysis: RFS Has Reduced GHG Emissions by 354 Million Tons

New research shows the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 354 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions since 2008, according to a recent analysis by Lifecycle Associates.

“The RFS2 has resulted in significant GHG reductions, with cumulative CO2 savings of 354 million metric tons over the period of implementation,” according to the report. “The GHG reductions are attributed to greater than expected savings from ethanol and other biofuels.” Specifically, the authors ascribe the larger-than-anticipated GHG emissions reductions to: technology improvements in grain ethanol production, increased consumption of low-carbon advanced biofuels, and the steadily rising carbon intensity of petroleum fuels.

fuel pump nozzelWhereas the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a 2005 petroleum “baseline” for estimating RFS2 emissions impacts, the Life Cycle Associates study uses a “dynamic” petroleum baseline that reflects the true emissions impacts associated with U.S. petroleum consumption. The report, which builds on earlier work regarding marginal petroleum emissions, states that “…the advent of new crude oil extraction and processing technologies has raised the aggregate CI of petroleum fuels above the 2005 (EPA) baseline.”

“This report, which uses globally accepted GHG accounting methods, demonstrates that the RFS has been tremendously successful in reducing the carbon intensity of our transportation fuels. In fact, the study found the RFS has actually exceeded expectations in terms of GHG reduction,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “As the Obama Administration considers both its approach to the Paris climate talks and the 2014–2016 RFS final rule, we strongly encourage them to examine this report and think carefully about the carbon impacts of the important policy decisions they are about to make. As documented in the study, the carbon footprint of American biofuels continues to shrink, while the carbon emissions associated with petroleum continue to increase. The RFS has absolutely lived up to its promise of delivering cleaner fuels to consumers, while displacing and delaying the need for increasingly dirty sources of petroleum. Now is the time to renew our national commitment to biofuels—not to walk away from it.”

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) sponsored the Lifecycle Associates study. To read the entire study, please click here.

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