The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 included an expanded Renewable Fuel Standard, which the EPA used to develop a final rule effective July 1, 2010. To comply with the Standard, biofuel producers and importers must blend increasing amounts of biofuels into gasoline and diesel.
However, there have been problems with the government's original predictions regarding the supply and demand of gasoline; U.S. gasoline demand has dropped while supply has increased due to the shale and natural gas revolution in North America. Also, cellulosic technologies have not developed as quickly as expected and there are no commercial plants to date. The EPA rushed through approval of an up to 15 percent ethanol blend (E15) without adequate testing, leading to compatibility problems with E15, poor consumer acceptance and significant infrastructure and cost challenges.
A study by NERA Economic Consulting (NERA) released in March 2013 buttresses the argument that the RFS is irretrievably broken. According to NERA, continued implementation of RFS ethanol mandates by 2015 could:
- Lead to fuel supply disruptions that ripple adversely through the economy
- Cause the cost of diesel to rise 300 percent and the cost of gasoline to rise 30 percent.
- Decrease U.S. GDP by $770 billion.
- Reduce worker take-home pay $580 billion.
Renewable Fuel Standard Facts is available in both high and low resolution versions.
See high and low resolution versions of individual charts below: