Renewable Fuels Association reflects on success of the RFS

By Chris Hanson | December 19, 2013

The Renewable Fuel Association showcased the trends and successes of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) on the sixth anniversary of the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

“Six years ago I joined several colleagues and scores of renewable energy enthusiasts in the auditorium of the Forrestal Building as President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act into law,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA. “It was a great day.”

Six years later, the program is still succeeding in the reduction of America’s dependence on foreign oil, Dinneen said. “This program is doing everything that it was supposed to do and more,” he added.

An accompanying report published by the RFA highlights RFS impacts from 2007 through 2013, including renewable fuel production and petroleum imports,  “What we did, is essentially take a snapshot of key variables from this month in 2007 and compared them to today,” said Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis for the RFA.   

The report showed that 110 corn ethanol plants produced 6.52 billion gallons in 2007. Six years later, 209 corn ethanol plants produced roughly 13.3 billion gallons. “We virtually doubled the number of corn ethanol facilities since 2007,” Cooper said. “We expect the volume of ethanol produced this year to double as well.”

In addition to ethanol production, the industry also saw a doubling of co-products since 2007. “We’re estimating the value of ethanol and co-products this year is going to be somewhere around the order of $42 billion,” Cooper said. “That’s about two and a half times the value of the industry’s output in 2007.”

Environmental issues addressed a shrinking of the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone, or hypoxia zone, by 26.6 percent since the signing of the act. “In fact, last year in 2012, the hypoxic zone was the smallest it had been in 12 years,” Cooper said. “I think these numbers speak to the fact that there is really no correlation whatsoever between corn acres or ethanol production and the size of the hypoxic zone in the gulf.”

Other factors highlighted in the report compared petroleum import dependence, fuel and food prices.