Article InformationEdit

Title: A Review of Biofuel Policies in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007: Filling in the Holes

Author(s): Don MacKenzie

Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Presented At: STiS 2008

Primary Topic Area: Energy Policy


Biofuels production in the United States is growing rapidly, driven by the goals of rural economic development, energy security, and environmental sustainability. However, while the biofuels industry to date has delivered rural economic development, it has contributed little to improving energy security or environmental sustainability.

The recent Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (“the Act”) creates a path toward a more balanced biofuels policy, but it still falls short in several key areas. The Act takes the much-needed steps of including greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity in biofuels policy and of beginning to study non-GHG environmental impacts of biofuels production and use. However, the Act does not adequately address the issues of how to absorb large quantities of biofuels into the market, sustainability criteria for production, or the creation of robust, open markets for biofuels.

This paper discusses some key gaps in the biofuels provisions of the Act and proposes additional policies to create a comprehensive strategy for sustainable growth of the biofuel industry. In particular, the paper proposes policies to increase the production of flexible-fuel vehicles; to develop techniques for the collection of biomass feedstocks and promote transitionary feedstocks; to develop standards for the production of biofuels sold into the U.S. market; and to enhance energy security goals through liberalization of the biofuel market.

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