The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Comparing the Climate Mitigation Potential of Advanced Biofuels

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Emily S Cassidy, Environmental Working Group, Washington, DC, United States
The federal policy known as the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates that by 2022, 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels will be used in the U.S. fuel supply. So far this policy has resulted in drastically increased production of corn ethanol and only a small amount of advanced fuels. While most corn ethanol plants are not required to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (when compared to gasoline), advanced biofuels are required to reduce emissions by 50 or 60 percent.

But not all fuels that qualify for advanced status according to the Environmental Protection Agency have the same climate mitigation potential. This study ranks advanced fuel pathways approved by the EPA from good, to bad…to worse. Climate mitigation potential of these fuels is compared to previous research and examined using the EPA’s modeling framework.