RFA: RFS has reduced GHG emissions by 355 million metric tons

By Renewable Fuels Association, from Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Biofuels consumed under the expanded renewable fuel standard (RFS2) have reduced U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 354 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent since 2008, according to a new analysis conducted by California-based Life Cycle Associates. The Renewable Fuels Association, which sponsored the study, said the findings have important implications for both the pending final rule for 2014–2016 RFS volumes and upcoming global climate talks in Paris.

“The RFS2 has resulted in significant GHG reductions, with cumulative CO2 savings of 354 million metric tonnes over the period of implementation,” according to the report. “The GHG reductions are attributed to greater than expected savings from ethanol and other biofuels.” Specifically, the authors ascribe the larger-than-anticipated GHG emissions reductions to: technology improvements in grain ethanol production, increased consumption of low-carbon advanced biofuels, and the steadily rising carbon intensity of petroleum fuels.

Whereas the U.S. EPA uses a 2005 petroleum “baseline” for estimating RFS2 emissions impacts, the Life Cycle Associates study uses a “dynamic” petroleum baseline that reflects the true emissions impacts associated with U.S. petroleum consumption. The report, which builds on earlier work regarding marginal petroleum emissions, states that “…the advent of new crude oil extraction and processing technologies has raised the aggregate CI of petroleum fuels above the 2005 (EPA) baseline.”