Renewable fuels standard
While Exxon Mobil's investment marks a sea change in activity in the sector, significant challenges remain in place to achieve wide-scale commercial development.
Next-wave biofuels that could reduce carbon emissions and displace oil imports are politically popular but have not moved into commercial production as fast as supporters would have hoped. Biofuels overall got a boost through a 2007 law that expands the national renewable fuels standard, or RFS, to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022.
But Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said the RFS expansion is too restrictive and could freeze out emerging technologies -- including algae-based biofuels. He is calling for changes that would make it more "technology- and feedstock-neutral" to accommodate fuels that could ultimately prove superior in several respects.
"Algae-based fuels are the most obvious example, which, despite having characteristics superior to any renewable fuels in commercial production today, have no home in the RFS," Bingaman said in a column about the standards published in the Politico newspaper.
Senior reporter Ben Geman contributed.
Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500