1 1 (May 18, 2020)

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               Researh Sevki





The 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

COVID-19 Impacts



Updated May 18, 2020


Ongoing COVID-19 mitigation measures may impact the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)-a mandate
requiring U.S. transportation fuel to contain renewable fuel. Since the beginning of the pandemic,
transportation fuel demand has dropped significantly, compared to January through early March 2020 and
to projections made when the 2020 volume requirements were finalized. Significant changes in fuel
demand and other effects of the pandemic could affect both the implementation of the RFS and the
impacts of compliance with the 2020 standard, particularly given the present-day uncertainties with
refinery and biorefinery economics, fuel prices, RFS compliance costs, and economic recovery, among
other things. Some Members of Congress, governors, and stakeholders in the petroleum and renewable
fuel industries, among others, have called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take
additional action on the 2020 RFS requirements due in part to COVID-19. Congress may consider
whether to intervene or whether EPA should intervene, and if so, whether it has the statutory authority to
do so.


The Renewable Fuel Standard

The RFS is a renewable fuel volume mandate scheduled to ascend over time. The RFS statute specifies
minimum annual volume targets for four renewable fuel categories: renewable fuel, advanced biofuel,
cellulosic biofuel, and biomass-based diesel. Each year EPA establishes the volume of the four renewable
fuel categories that will be required for the coming year based on the statutory targets and use of its
statutory waiver authority.
Under certain conditions, the EPA Administrator has statutory authority to approve waivers of the RFS
requirements (in whole or in part). There are various waivers, one of which EPA has used several times-
the cellulosic biofuel waiver. For example, although the statute calls for 30 billion gallons of total
renewable fuel in 2020, the EPAAdministrator used the cellulosic biofuel waiver authority to reduce the
total volume to 20.09 billion gallons due to ... a projected shortfall in the availability of cellulosic
biofuel, and consistent with our long-held interpretation that the cellulosic waiver authority is best
interpreted to provide equal reductions to advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes.... The

                                                               Congressional Research Service
                                                                 https://crsreports.congress.gov
                                                                                     IN11353

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