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Table 1 Evolution of key federal legislation related to biofuel development in the US

From: Integrating policy, market, and technology for sustainability governance of agriculture-based biofuel and bioeconomic development in the US

YearActMajor policy instrumentKey features in relation to bioenergy
Tax incentive or subsidyOutput target/quota
1970Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970 [7] with amendments of 1990 [8]  Authorized the development and implementation of regulations, standards, and initiatives to limit air pollutants from both stationary and mobile sources.
1978Energy Tax Act [9]X Provided a tax exemption of US$0.40 per gallon (US$0.11/L) of ethanol (the tax exemption is proportional for gasoline mixed with ethanol), in the wake of the oil crisis.
1982Surface Transportation Assistance Act [10]X Increased the tax exemption to US$0.50 per gallon (US$0.13/L) of ethanol
1984Tax Reform Act (amendment of Deficit Reduction Act) [11]X Further increased the tax exemption to US$0.60 per gallon (US$0.16/L) of ethanol
1990Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act [12]X Extended the ethanol tax exemption through 2000 (but decreased it to US$0.54 per gallon (US$0.14/L)).
1992Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992 [13]X Encouraged the use of alternative fuels including biofuels to reduce dependence on petroleum and improve air quality.
1998Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century [14]X Extended the ethanol tax exemption through 2007 (reduced to US$0.51 per gallon (US$0.13/L) by 2005).
2004Job Creation Act [15]X Extended the ethanol tax exemption to 2010 but changed it from an excise tax exemption to a blender tax credit. The tax credit was later decreased to US$0.45 per gallon (US$0.12/L).
2005Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 [16]XXAuthorized the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil. Aimed at increasing renewable fuel production from 4 billion gallons (15.1 billion liters) in 2006 to 7.5 billion gallons (28.4 billion liters) by 2012. Provided tax credits for alternative fuel producers, infrastructure and motor vehicles.
2007Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) [4]XX- Greatly expanded the biofuel blending mandates, requiring transportation fuels sold in the US to contain a minimum of 36 billion gallons (136.3 billion liters) of renewable fuels by 2022.
- Covered four types of biofuels: renewable fuels (including corn-based ethanol), advanced biofuels, biomass-based diesel, and cellulosic biofuels.
- Encouraged research and development of the next generation of biofuels, such as cellulosic fuels. The cellulosic biofuels mandate was set at 16.9 billion gallons (64 billion liters) by 2022.
- Aimed to create a market for biofuels by requiring biofuel blenders to have minimum volumes of biofuels in their annual transportation fuel sales under the expanded RFS.
- Set certain minimum thresholds of lifecycle greenhouse-gas-emission performance for each category of biofuel.
2008Energy Improvement and Extension Act [17]X Extended biodiesel production and alternative fuel exercise tax credits through 2009 and alternative fuel infrastructure tax credit through 2010.
2008Farm Bill: Food, Conservation, and Energy Act [18]X Authorized the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to provide financial assistance to individuals and companies for growing perennial crops and harvesting and delivering cellulosic biomass feedstock for biofuel production. Set new cellulosic biofuel producer credit at US$1.10 per gallon (US$0.29/L).
2010Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act [19]X Extended and reinstated several alternative fuel tax credits through 2011.
2012American Taxpayer Relief Act [20]X Extended and reinstated several alternative fuel tax credits through 2013.
2014Tax Increase Prevention Act [21]X Retroactively reinstated several alternative fuel tax credits through 2014.
2014Farm Bill: Agricultural Act [22]X Amended the BCAP to allow the enrollment of land under Conservation Reserve Program or Agricultural Conservation Easement Program contracts.
2016Consolidated Appropriations Act [23]X Retroactively reinstated and extended several alternative fuel tax credits through 2016.