The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a regulatory program administered by EPA that requires petroleum-based transportation fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimum volume of various categories of biofuels. The program’s mandates are subject to a statutory waiver provision that may be exercised by EPA in the event that market conditions present an obstacle to meeting the minimum volumes. With the new administration’s continuing scrutiny of EPA’s numerous regulatory programs, there has been a great deal of uncertainty regarding the likely fate of the RFS Program.
Renewable energy is back on the docket for the Senate Finance Committee, and Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is likely to release the draft of his bill as early as this week. The Committee is considering a two-year extender for tax incentives for new wind, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas and ocean energy projects during a markup. Also being considered is the extension of second generation biofuel producer tax incentives for production of biodiesel and renewable diesel. The extenders package covers 52 items concerning a wide range of industries in addition to renewable energy, including mortgage lenders, education, and retail and restaurant improvements. The 30% investment tax credit for solar and fuel cell projects is not expected to be on the table. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) urges the solar community to advocate the investment tax credit, which is set to step-down in 2016 without an extension.