The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), which amended the Clean Air Act (CAA). Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy.The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) further amended the CAA by expanding the RFS program. The RFS program is a national policy that requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil or jet fuel.

The statute also contains a general waiver authority that allows the Administrator to waive the RFS volumes, in whole or in part, based on a determination that implementation of the program is causing severe economic or environmental harm, or based on inadequate domestic supply.

Top of Page For a fuel to qualify as a renewable fuel under the RFS program, EPA must determine that the fuel qualifies under the statute and regulations.

Among other requirements, fuels must achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as compared to a 2005 petroleum baseline.

EPA has approved fuel pathways under the RFS program under all four categories of renewable fuel.

Advanced pathways already approved include ethanol made from sugarcane; jet fuel made from camelina; cellulosic ethanol made from corn stover; compressed natural gas from municipal wastewater treatment facility digesters; and others.

Lifecycle GHG reduction comparisons are based on a 2005 petroleum baseline as mandated by EISA.

Biofuel facilities (domestic and foreign) that were producing fuel prior to enactment of EISA in 2007 are “grandfathered” under the statute, meaning these facilities are not required to meet the GHG reductions.

EPA continues to review and approve new pathways, including for fuels made with advanced technologies or with new feedstocks.

Certain biofuels are similar enough to gasoline or diesel that they do not have to be blended, but can be simply “dropped in” to existing petroleum-based fuels.