The National Research Council (NRC) is currently conducting an ongoing study on the impacts of expanded biofuel production. NRC, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, hosted a workshop last week to receive feedback from people on both sides of the debate. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) represented the ethanol industry and Geoff Cooper, RFA’s Vice President of Research and Analysis, was on hand for the meeting.
Prior to the event, however, Cooper prepared some responses in advance of the meeting. There were six questions proposed by NRC that RFA responded to four in detail. Specifically, the questions asked and responded to were:
- 1. What are the costs and disruptive effects on the economy and environment of meeting the RFS mandate by 2022?
- 2. In your view, what are the potential beneficial impacts of the RFS mandate in addition to improving energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
- 3. Which groups would gain or lose most from meeting the RFS mandate?
- 4. What are the most important barriers to meeting the RFS mandate?
In response to the first two questions, Cooper wrote, “We believe the positive economic and environmental effects associated with meeting long-term RFS2 requirements far outweigh any potential negative consequences. Further, some “disruptive” effects are in fact positive for the U.S. economy and environment. The disruption of crude oil markets that would result from meeting RFS requirements is one example.”
In response to the second question above, Cooper wrote, “We believe it is important that committee members have a full understanding of all of the beneficial impacts that would result from meeting RFS2 requirements so that likely benefits can be properly weighed against potential risks.”
Benefits highlighted by RFA for the committee include increased energy security, reduced dependence on foreign oil, reduced GHG emissions, increase in green jobs, increase in farm income and decrease of gas prices at the pump. Cooper also noted that the barriers to success of the RFS include blend wall limits, infrastructure and logistics, and access to capital, to name a few.