Policy Corner: Modeling Matters

In the ever-evolving landscape of renewable energy, the power of precision and scientific rigor is undeniable. The journey to decarbonize transportation hinges on nothing less than the most accurate and up-to-date science, setting the stage for bioethanol’s undeniable impact.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and tax credits included in the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are integral policy vehicles for bioethanol. Both rely on accurate lifecycle analysis (LCA) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to determine the policy effectiveness and incentives for bioethanol.

Accurate LCA measures are critical to showcasing the increasingly low-carbon benefits of bioethanol. Inaccurate or outdated modeling could stifle the industry’s ability to invest in technologies that further reduce the carbon intensity (CI) of bioethanol production and provide new markets and jobs for agriculture and rural communities.

Put simply, modeling matters.

The Department of Energy’s Argonne Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model is considered the gold standard to accurately measure LCA of GHG emissions for any given energy and vehicle system.

There are efforts underway to ensure that Argonne GREET is recognized in both the RFS and IRA tax credits, such as the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Credit (40B), Clean Fuel Production Credit (45Z), and others.

Recently, biofuels champions Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) reintroduced the Adopt GREET Act, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its greenhouse gas modeling for all renewable fuels under the RFS.

“It’s past time for the EPA to update its greenhouse gas modeling for all biofuels, which would more accurately reflect the emissions reductions achieved by ethanol, biodiesel, and sustainable aviation fuel,” said Thune. “This would not only underscore how homegrown biofuels can be a cleaner part of our energy security and environmental policy, driving value for South Dakota farmers but also make biofuel exports more attractive to countries seeking to lower their transportation emissions.”

“It is critical that the EPA’s greenhouse gas modeling for biofuels be updated to fully reflect the newest science and technology,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will allow us to fully recognize how ethanol, biodiesel, and sustainable aviation fuel can contribute to our emissions reduction goals while expanding and promoting the use of clean energy and rural jobs across the country.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and
Angie Craig (D-MN).

“The EPA’s current greenhouse gas modeling is limiting the adoption of homegrown renewable fuels,” said Rep. Johnson. “In contrast, the GREET model takes into account the full lifecycle of renewable fuels — from a farmer’s field to fuel pumps — and gives consumers a more accurate picture of the benefits biofuels offer. We should be using the best science available, and that’s exactly what this bill does.”

“Homegrown biofuels are tools we have at our fingertips right now to help address climate change — and it’s critically important that the EPA’s data accurately reflects that,” said Rep. Craig. I’m proud to be working across the aisle to pass this bill and make sure the true benefit that homegrown biofuels bring to our environment, economy, and ag communities is recognized.”

Concurrently, as anticipated guidance is expected to be released determining eligibility requirements for claiming 40B, biofuels champions and advocates are engaged in an effort to ensure the Argonne GREET model is recognized as a “similar methodology” for determining LCA.

POET recently joined 70 companies throughout the SAF supply chain, including major airlines, in an open letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calling on the administration to recognize Argonne GREET in 40B to unlock the potential of biofuels in decarbonizing aviation.

The letter states, “We, the undersigned — as industry leaders covering nearly the entire supply chain for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) — are writing to express our strong support for formal recognition of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne GREET model as a 'similar methodology' under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Section 40B(e).”

It goes on to say, “Argonne GREET allows users to account for climate-smart and regenerative feedstock production practices. The IRA could unleash a new wave of U.S. bio-innovation practices but will not reach its full potential if those practices cannot be accounted for.”

POET agrees that modeling matters. We continue our work with biofuels champions and stakeholders throughout the ag supply chain to ensure that the best science is used to represent the true low-carbon benefits of bioethanol.




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