Each summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues a proposal governing how much renewable energy should be available to consumers in the year ahead. These targets are called Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) and they determine how many gallons of biofuel refiners will add to the motor fuel mix. After a proposal is issued, the agency then accepts comments from the public before issuing a final rule making under the RFS.

In late November 2016, the EPA issued final 2017 targets for the RFS. For the first time in years, these matched the full statutory goals for corn ethanol (15 billion gallons), although growth in advanced biofuels was very modest. Earlier this year, the EPA released its proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2019. The total renewable fuel volume is proposed to be 19.88 billion gallons, while the proposed conventional biofuel amount of 15 billion gallons maintains the level set in the final RVOs for 2018. The proposal also calls for 4.88 billion gallons of advanced biofuel, including 381 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel and 2.43 billion gallons of biodiesel for 2020.

Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) allow refiners and fuel importers to track each gallon of biofuel and demonstrate compliance with the law.

When Congress enacted the RFS targets, lawmakers set specific, near-term goals for the consumption of biofuels. After 2022, the EPA is required to continue setting targets guided by specific procedures and pro-growth guidelines laid out by Congress, similar to the procedure used today for setting RVOs for biomass-based diesel.

Strong annual targets for biofuel consumption remain vital to consumers, biofuel producers, and rural communities that depend on the RFS to drive economic growth. Across the heartland, a global crop surplus has pushed down farm incomes, threatening to stall the entire rural economy. The RFS provides policymakers a proven tool to harness America’s abundant renewable energy and revitalize rural growth.

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