The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Annette Cowie, Paul Martin and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 5: United States law and policy and the biofuel industry
In the development of a new industry like biofuels, stable long-term policy is a key factor to reach commercialization of alternative fuel production. In the United States, relatively stable and consistent policy is one factor that enabled ethanol as the first-generation alternative fuel to grow “dramatically” to 175 million gallons by 1980, to nearly 5 billion gallons by 2006, and to more than 14 billion gallons by 2014. Today, however, ethanol’s integration into the transportation fuel supply is said to be limited by the “blend wall”. At the same time, alternative second-generation biofuels have struggled to reach commercial-scale production largely because of uncertainty of future policies, high cost of production, the capital required to initiate a project, and a myriad of technical, environmental and social issues. The uncertainty is caused in part by the Renewable Fuel Standard’s fluctuating biofuel production mandates set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In particular, US law and policy for advanced biofuels has not provided adequate stimulus to foster predictable development and commercialization of the biofuel industry.
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