December 10, 2013

Model Predicts The EPA's Proposal Will Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The 2014 proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which would for the first time cut biofuel use, will require using more petroleum and increase emissions of greenhouse gases. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) utilized the GREET1.2013 model to estimate the changes in petroleum demand and the associated CO2 equivalent emissions from both 2013 and the statutory RFS levels for 2014.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, noted, “The bottom line on the administration’s proposed 2014 RFS rule is that, if left unchanged, it will increase our reliance on foreign oil and increase emissions of greenhouse gases. By stopping growth in use of biofuels, the proposed rule will stymie the commercialization of advanced and cellulosic biofuels and discourage additional innovation in the biotechnology industry.

“The RFS was intended to set the United States on a long-term path to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This proposed rule reverses that path and results in environmental backsliding.”

In 2013, the United States is projected to use 173 billion gallons of petroleum blendstocks (both gasoline and diesel) and 16 billion gallons of biofuels. The 2014 proposal – as written would require more than 175 billion gallons of petroleum and lower biofuel use to 15 billion gallons. If EPA maintained the statutory levels of biofuels, the United States would reduce use of petroleum to 172 billion gallons of petroleum and increase use of biofuels to 18 billion gallons.

Using GREET1.2013 estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with both petroleum and biofuels, the EPA proposal will result in an increase of more than 23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Maintaining the RFS statutory volumes of biofuel would decrease emissions by nearly 7 metric million tons.

Using EPA’s own estimates of the greenhouse has intensity of different fuel choices, the proposal would still result in an increase of nearly 23 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Achieving the statutory use of biofuels would decrease emissions by nearly 13 million metric tons.

Erickson concluded, “What the administration failed to consider before issuing the recent RFS proposal is that while gasoline use is projected to decline, diesel fuel use will continue to increase as it has for the past few years. EPA can and should maintain the RFS requirement to increase use of biofuels, rather than begin backsliding on the greenhouse gas emissions.”

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