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December 9, 2016

GAO Testifies On The Feasibility Of The RFS Program

Kathleen M Roberts

On December 1, 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs regarding the feasibility of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program .  GAO stated that the goals of the program, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector, were unlikely to be met as envisioned due to the limited production of advanced biofuels.  Despite the ability of advanced biofuels to achieve greater GHG reductions, conventional biofuels account for the majority of biofuel blended into domestic transportation fuels under the RFS.  According to experts interviewed by GAO, the limited use of advanced biofuels is due to high production costs.  The testimony was based on two reports that GAO published on November 28, 2016, which reviewed the federal effort that supported research and development into advanced biofuels and the management of the RFS program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  During the hearing, GAO highlighted the suggestions made by experts in its November reports regarding federal actions that could improve the RFS framework and policy alternatives that could more efficiently reduce GHG emissions.