Analysis Finds 'Tremendous Progress' Toward Renewable Fuel Standard Goals

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Analysis Finds 'Tremendous Progress' Toward Renewable Fuel Standard Goals

12/19/2017
an image depicting renewable fuel at the pump

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the decade since President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act, significant progress has been made toward greater energy security, cleaner air and boosting local economies, a new analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) found.

According to "The RFS2: Then and Now," the law expanded the scope and impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, culminating with 36 billion gallons in 2022.

"A decade after the RFS2 was adopted, tremendous progress has been made toward achieving the objectives of this landmark policy," stated the analysis, which compares key data points from 2007 to 2017.

Key highlights from "The RFS2: Then and Now" include:

  • The number of operational U.S. ethanol plants has nearly doubled from 110 in 2007 to 211 in 2017, a 92-percent increase, while U.S. ethanol production has grown 143 percent from 6.5 billion gallons in 2007 to 15.8 billion gallons in 2017.
  • U.S. ethanol industry jobs grew 42 percent from 238,541 in 2007 to 339,176, with the value of industry output increasing 74 percent from $17.8 billion in 2007 to $31 billion in 2017.
  • The production of advanced and cellulosic biofuel increased 469 percent from 490 million gallons in 2007 to 2.79 billion gallons in 2017.
  • U.S. corn production grew 12 percent from 13 billion bushels in 2007 to 14.6 billion bushels in 2017, while corn acres planted fell 3 percent from 93.5 million acres in 2007 to 90.4 million acres in 2017 and average corn yields increased 16 percent from 150.7 bushels per acre in 2007 to 175.4 bushels per acre in 2017.
  • The number of retail stations offering flex fuels like E85 increased 238 percent from 1,208 in 2007 to 4,077 in 2017, while the number of flex fuel vehicles on the road grew from 6.7 million in 2007 to 24.5 million in 2017, a 266-percent increase.
  • The greenhouse gas emissions avoided from using ethanol has increased 291 percent from 12.7 million tons CO2e in 2007 to 49.6 million tons CO2e in 2017.

The RFA report also showed that outcomes threatened by RFS opponents have not materialized, like:

  • U.S. cropland area fell 7 percent from 402 million acres in 2007 to 376 million acres in 2017, while U.S. grassland area has increased 5 percent from 1,296 thousand square miles to 1,359 thousand square miles.
  • The deforestation rate in the Amazon fell 43 percent from 4,498 square miles in 2007 to 2,558 square miles in 2017.
  •  The greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soil management, urea fertilization, and liming fell 7 percent from 278.7 million metric tons CO2e in 2007 to 260.1 million metric tons CO2e in 2017.
  • Overall food inflation was 4 percent in 2007, but 1 percent in 2017.
  • Prices for red meat, poultry, fish, cereals and bakery items, and dairy were unchanged in 2017 from the previous year, as compared to a 3.8-percent increase in 2007.
  • World grain supply for coarse grains, wheat, and rice increased 31 percent to 3.23 billion metric tons in 2017, as compared to 2.46 billion metric tons in 2007.

"By any measure, RFS2 has been a huge success, bringing about greater consumer choice while helping to make the air cleaner, stimulate economic activity and enhance energy security," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "As this analysis shows, consumers have greatly benefited from this vital program. These benefits have rippled throughout our economy and we look forward to even greater success of the RFS for years to come."

The full analysis is available here.

Based in Washington, D.C., RFA is a trade association for America's ethanol industry. 

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