Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Testimony on the RFS

Here's my statement at today's House hearing on the RFS; see links at the end to access the written testimony and related videos. 

My research shows that the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, has been harmful to the environment from its inception. Now, ten years after the 2005 Energy Policy Act, the program has resulted in higher CO2 emissions than would have occurred otherwise. It also harms the environment in other ways. Sadly, the adverse impacts of the RFS have grown worse since it was expanded by Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.

The notion that renewable fuels readily reduce CO2 is based on a scientifically incorrect understanding of carbon neutrality. Only under certain conditions does substituting a biofuel for a fossil fuel neutralize the CO2 leaving the tailpipe. For that to occur, harvesting the feedstock must significantly increase how rapidly cropland absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere on a net basis. That condition is not met for the corn ethanol mandated by the RFS. It might be satisfied for cellulosic feedstocks, but once properly evaluated, the gains may not be as great as advocates assume.