The United States is the largest consumer of oil in the world, burning about 18 million barrels per day, this dependence creates serious national security threat. Reliance on foreign oil makes America susceptible to high oil prices which have devastating effects on military costs as well as the economy.
As a result, Congress established the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as a part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The RFS requires a minimum volume of biofuels to be blended in the national transportation fuel supply. In 2007, Congress expanded RFS under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
Over a 15 year time frame the act requires increasing the production of biofuels to 36 billion gallons by 2022.
By establishing an RFS, America is able to bolster its energy security though the production of a renewable energy source domestically, reducing reliance on imported fuel sources. According to Fuels America, a new group centered on promoting and maintaining the RFS, renewable fuels currently provide 10% of America fuel needs, a number that is growing. American Security Project has recently joined the group to make the case for biofuels.
Additionally, the RFS is crucial to America’s economic recovery, supporting 400,000 jobs nationwide, lowering fuel costs, increasing the value of agricultural assets, and spurring economic and technological growth.
With so many benefits it’s no wonder why Congress wanted to support biofuels. However, in order to spur investment and expansion of the industry, the RFS must be maintained. As noted in a recent CRS report, ” [RFS] reduces the risk of investing in renewable biofuels by guaranteeing biofuels demand for a projected period (such risk would otherwise keep significant investment capital on the sidelines).”
The RFS has attracted broad bipartisan support since its inception. Under President Obama, the Department of Defense has made significant investments in advanced biofuels in order to reduce dependence on oil.
Republicans have also backed RFS. On August 23rd Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney released his energy plan, where he affirms his commitment to maintaining the RFS.
Renewable Fuel Standards is immensely important for the development of advanced biofuels.