| NEW YORK
NEW YORK The U.S. biofuels program, designed to
boost demand for renewables in gasoline and diesel, is unlikely
to meet its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the
government said in two reports on Monday.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the more than decade-old
biofuels policy, is unlikely to meet targeted cuts to emissions
by 2022 as production of second-generation renewable fuels lags,
the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report on
Monday. This is likely to fuel criticism from opponents of the
program that range from Big Oil companies to environmentalists.
That is largely thanks to sluggish development of the
advanced fuels - including cellulosic ethanol which is produced
from plant waste - that were meant to represent an increasing
share of annual requirements, the GAO said. The Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) each year sets targets for the volumes
of ethanol and biodiesel required to be blended with
The RFS program was signed into law in 2005 in a bid to
reduce dependence on foreign oil, cut greenhouse gas emissions
and promote rural economies. It has been stymied by regulatory
delays and an earlier-than-expected drop in transportation fuel
The reviews were requested by Republican Senator James
Lankford of Oklahoma, a long-time opponent of the program, in
2015, a GAO spokesman said. Their publication comes the week
after the EPA set biofuels targets for 2017 and biodiesel
targets for 2018 that met or exceeded the congressional targets
for most fuel categories.
Investment in the advanced fuel sector slowed as a result.
That sector is unlikely to grow quickly enough to meet the
annual production targets in the near-term, the GAO said in a
second report published on Monday.
Slow development of advanced fuels with fewer emissions has
become one of the key criticisms of the program from
environmentalists, who question the benefits of ethanol, a
renewable made from corn that represents the bulk of U.S.
The EPA in letters to the GAO agreed the program is unlikely
to meet its targets.
The "slower-than-anticipated pace of progress (of the
advanced fuel sector) means that Congress's original goals for
the program will not be met on the statutory timeline," Janet
McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and
Radiation at the EPA, said in a Nov. 16 letter published with
Still, McCabe defended the progress the agency has made and
the development of other advanced fuels like biodiesel. A
spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment further.