Subtitle A, Renewable Fuel Standard
This subtitle extends and increases the renewable fuel standard (RFS) set by P.L. 109-58 (§1501). The RFS requires minimum annual levels of renewable fuel in U.S. transportation fuel. The previous standard was 5.4 billion gallons for 2008, rising to 7.5 billion by 2012. The new standard starts at 9.0 billion gallons in 2008 and rises to 36 billion gallons in 2022. Starting in 2016, all of the increase in the RFS target must be met with advanced biofuels, defined as cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels derived from feedstock other than corn starch — with explicit carve-outs for cellulosic biofuels and biomass-based diesel. The EP A Administrator is given authority to temporarily waive part of the biofuels mandate, if it were determined that a significant renewable feedstock disruption or other market circumstance might occur. Renewable fuels produced from new biorefineries will be required to reduce by at least 20% the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to life cycle emissions from gasoline and diesel. Fuels produced from biorefineries that displace more than 80% of the fossil-derived processing fuels used to operate a biofuel production facility will qualify for cash awards. Several studies are required on the impacts of an RFS expansion on various sectors of the economy.
Subtitle B. Biofuels Research and Development (R&D)
This subtitle promotes research on the expansion of the use of biodiesel and biogas as motor fuels. Grants are authorized for R&D and commercial applications of cellulosic biofuels technologies and for the conversion of existing corn-based ethanol plants to produce cellulosic biofuels. The Secretary of Energy is required to report to Congress on the feasibility of algae as a feedstock for biofuels production. The subtitle also promotes university-based R&D on biofuels.
Subtitle C, Biofuels Infrastructure
This subtitle aims to improve information about federal biofuels research programs, focus research on infrastructure and biorefineries, study potential impacts of increased biofuels use, and increase authorized funding for DOE biofuels research. A funding authorization of $25 million is established to provide grants for biofuels research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) and commercial applications in states that have low rates of ethanol production. A university-based program is authorized to provide grants of up to $2 million for R&D on renewable energy technologies. Priority is given to universities in low-income and rural communities with proximity to trees dying of disease or insect infestation.
DOE is directed to create a grant program to help establish or convert infrastructure to use renewable fuels, including E85 (85% ethanol). The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT, P.L. 109-58) authorization for grants to support cellulosic ethanol production is increased. A grant program is authorized to support production of flexible-fueled vehicles. Studies are also required on the market penetration of flexible-fueled vehicles, the feasibility of constructing dedicated ethanol pipelines, the feasibility of using greater percentages of ethanol in fuel blends, and the adequacy of railroad transportation for delivery of ethanol fuel.
Subtitle D, Environmental Safeguards
Previously, under the Clean Air Act, no new fuels or fuel additives could be introduced into commerce unless granted a waiver by the EPA. If EPA did not act within 180 days of receiving a waiver request, the waiver was treated as granted.5 Section 251 tightens the waiver provision. It amends the Clean Air Act to prohibit the introduction of new fuels or fuel additives unless EPA explicitly grants a waiver. After receiving a waiver request, EPA will now have 270 days to take final action.