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alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles issues in congress, december 23, 2010

alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles issues in congress, december 23, 2010

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Published by Chuck Achberger
Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress
Brent D. Yacobucci Specialist in Energy and Environmental Policy December 23, 2010

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R40168

CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress

Summary
Alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles are seen by proponents as integral to improving urban air quality, decreasing depe
Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress
Brent D. Yacobucci Specialist in Energy and Environmental Policy December 23, 2010

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R40168

CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress

Summary
Alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles are seen by proponents as integral to improving urban air quality, decreasing depe

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Published by: Chuck Achberger on May 25, 2011
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CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Alternative Fuels and Advanced TechnologyVehicles: Issues in Congress
Brent D. Yacobucci
Specialist in Energy and Environmental PolicyDecember 23, 2010
Congressional Research Service
7-5700www.crs.govR40168
 
 Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in CongressCongressional Research Service
Summary
Alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles are seen by proponents as integral toimproving urban air quality, decreasing dependence on foreign oil, and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. However, major barriers—especially economics—currently prevent thewidespread use of these fuels and technologies. Because of these barriers, and the potentialbenefits, there is continued congressional interest in providing incentives and other support fortheir development and commercialization.On February 3, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new rules for therenewable fuel standard (RFS) that was expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Actof 2007 (EISA, P.L. 110-140). In 2010, the RFS required the use of 12.95 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels in transportation fuel. Within that mandate, the RFS required the use of 0.95 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, including 6.5 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels. For2011, the RFS mandate is 13.95 billion gallons, including 6.6 billion gallons of cellulosic fuel.EISA also requires that advanced biofuels (as well as conventional biofuels from newly builtrefineries) meet certain lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction requirements. EPA’s methodology andconclusions on various biofuels’ lifecycle emissions have been controversial.EPA is also reviewing a waiver petition from Growth Energy to allow blends of up to 15%ethanol in gasoline: currently gasoline is limited to 10% ethanol content under EPAimplementation of the Clean Air Act. Allowing higher blends of ethanol under the Clean Air Actwould remove one component of the “blend wall,” which limits the total amount of ethanol thatcan be blended in gasoline nationwide; other blend wall components include vehicle and pumpcertification and warranties, and state and local fire codes and other laws. In October 2010 EPAgranted a partial waiver allowing the use of E15 in model year (MY) 2007 and newer vehicles,but deferred a decision on MY2001-MY2006 vehicles. Because EPA determined there wasinsufficient data to alleviate concerns over emissions performance in older vehicles, as well asmotorcycles, heavy trucks, and non-road engines, the agency denied a waiver for the use of E15in those vehicles and engines.The 112
th
Congress may debate alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles as it addressesother key topics. These include their role in any federal policy to address climate change, andtheir role in federal energy policy. The 112
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Congress may also play an oversight role in thedevelopment of major regulations: EPA’s implementation of the RFS and greenhouse gas controlsunder the Clean Air Act; the Department of Transportation’s implementation of fuel economystandards enacted in 2007; and the Department of Agriculture’s implementation of the 2008 FarmBill. Further, some key tax incentives for alternative fuels that had expired or were set to at theend of 2010 were extended through the end of 2011 by the Tax Relief, Unemployment InsuranceReauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-312). The 112
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Congress may revisitthese incentives and discuss whether they should be extended beyond 2011.
 
 Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in CongressCongressional Research Service
Contents
Introduction................................................................................................................................1
 
Most Recent Developments.........................................................................................................1
 
Background and Analysis............................................................................................................2
 
Congressional Interest...........................................................................................................2
 
Legislative Background...................................................................................................2
 
Current Issues.................................................................................................................4
 
Fuel Tax Incentives...............................................................................................................5
 
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).....................................................................................6
 
Ethanol “Blend Wall”............................................................................................................7
 
Cellulosic Biofuels................................................................................................................9
 
Ethanol Imports..................................................................................................................10
 
Vehicle Purchase Requirements...........................................................................................11
 
Vehicle Purchase Tax Incentives..........................................................................................12
 
Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel..........................................................................................13
 
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.....................................................................................................14
 
Hybrid Vehicles..................................................................................................................14
 
Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Technology Provisions in the American Recoveryand Reinvestment Act of 2009................................................................................................16
 
For Additional Reading.............................................................................................................17
 
Tables
Table 1. Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Technology Provisions in P.L. 111-5................16
 
Contacts
Author Contact Information......................................................................................................18
 

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