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. A year later, the EPA released the final renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2018. The total renewable fuel volume was set at 19.29 billion gallons, which maintains a 15-billion-gallon target for conventional biofuel. Advanced biofuel was set for 4.29 billion gallons, including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. The 2019 biodiesel amount was set for 2.1 billion gallons.
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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