Implementing a national clean fuel program that incorporates a market-based, technology-neutral approach will be critical to decarbonizing the U.S. transportation sector, the Renewable Fuels Association stressed today at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
“While policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Inflation Reduction Act, and light-duty vehicle fuel economy and tailpipe standards will play a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, other complementary solutions will also be required to truly decarbonize the sector by mid-century,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “If properly structured, a national Clean Fuel Program (sometimes called a Low Carbon Fuel Standard or Clean Fuel Standard) offers the best potential to rapidly accelerate the decarbonization of the transportation sector, while simultaneously enhancing energy security, creating jobs, and reducing tailpipe emissions of pollutants linked to poor air quality and human health challenges.”
Cooper noted the unanimous commitment made by RFA member companies to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner, and that a workable pathway has been developed toward that goal. This ambitious goal, while achievable, cannot be reached without policy alignment in six areas, he said:
- fairness and consistency in how the carbon footprint of different fuels and vehicles is measured;
- removal of unnecessary regulatory barriers that are blocking the use of fuel blends that contain higher levels of ethanol, such as 15 percent ethanol blends (E15);
- continued investment in storage and distribution infrastructure for higher ethanol blends like E15 and flex fuels like E85;
- implementation of strong Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements in 2023 and beyond;
- equitable incentives for the production of flex-fuel vehicles that can operate on fuels containing up to 85 percent ethanol; and
- a well-structured nationwide clean fuels policy.
“If implemented on a national level, a CFP will need to be carefully designed in a way that avoids picking technology winners and losers and drives the greatest GHG emissions reductions at the lowest cost,” Cooper stated. “A nationwide CFP should use consistent, fair, and science-based lifecycle GHG analyses for all fuel and vehicle options; set clear and predictable annual GHG reduction requirements; allow low-carbon fuel producers to demonstrate continuous improvement in their individual carbon footprints; include cost-containment measures; and include complimentary measures to remove technical barriers that artificially limit greater use of low-carbon fuels.”