Selected Issues Related to an Expansion of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) [Updated March 31, 2008] [open pdf - 161KB]
"High petroleum and gasoline prices, concerns over global climate change, and the desire to promote domestic rural economies have greatly increased interest in biofuels as an alternative to petroleum in the U.S. transportation sector. Biofuels, most notably corn ethanol, have grown significantly in the past few years as a component of U.S. motor fuel supply. Ethanol, the most commonly used biofuel, is blended in nearly half of all U.S. gasoline (at the 10% level or lower in most cases). However, current biofuel supply only represents about 4% of total gasoline demand. Issues facing the U.S. biofuels industry include potential agricultural 'feedstock' supplies, the associated market and environmental effects of a major shift in U.S. agricultural production; the energy supply needed to grow feedstocks and process them into fuel, and barriers to expanded infrastructure needed to deliver more and more biofuels to the market. A key question is whether a renewable fuel mandate is the most effective policy to promote the above goals. This report outlines some of the current supply issues facing biofuels industries, including implications for agricultural feedstocks, infrastructure concerns, energy supply for biofuel production, and fuel price uncertainties."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34265