Earth Institute Research Projects

The Renewable Fuel Standard: A Path Forward

Lead PI: James Stock

Unit Affiliation: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP)

April 2015 - Ongoing
North America ; United States
Project Type: Research Outreach

DESCRIPTION: The Center on Global Energy Policy released a new study, The Renewable Fuel Standard: A Path Forward (PDF), authored by Dr. James Stock, a former Member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and now a Harvard economist and non-resident Fellow at the Center.

In the paper, Stock finds that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is currently imposing costs while failing to provide support for low-carbon second-generation biofuels that can help achieve the program’s energy security and environmental goals. Stock examines three possible policy paths forward for the RFS, and finds that the best option would be for EPA to expand the amount of renewable fuel in the fuel supply, consistent with the intent of the statute. But for this path to be cost effective it needs to be coupled with credible steps to expand the consumption of higher blends of ethanol such as E85. Additional legislative reforms could further reduce the program’s cost while sharpening its focus on second-generation fuels.