Environmental, Social & Economic Impacts programs

Biofuels: Law and Regulation

Scientific advances will provide the technical solutions to achieving mass production of cellulosic ethanol.  However, achieving cellulosic ethanol’s full potential will require deft navigation of emerging legal, regulatory and political barriers. This program analyzed biofuel laws and regulations to facilitate development of optimal policies for commercialization.  At the forefront of this effort was working to establish sustainability standards for biomass and biofuels systems that encompass both greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and mitigation of other environmental affects (Note: the program is now operating as two projects: Federal/State Law and Policy, and System Sustainability).


program Highlights

2011 Highlights

Kesan and his team continued to study contractual-based issues associated with the development of biomass supply chains for biofuel production. One conclusion: interagency inconsistency in laws and regulations have resulted in unjustified hurdles for biofuels commercialization. They developed an analytical framework for assessing regulatory regimes and identifying when regulatory innovations are called for to successfully commercialize second-generation biofuels and capture the requisite social benefits. Using cost-benefit analysis as a foundation, the group also determined that compliance-related burdens associated with regulatory regimes affecting the commercialization of biofuels should not outweigh the societal harms those regulatory regimes are intended to mitigate.

2010 Highlights

The program hosted the Second Annual Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference in April 2010, bringing together legal experts in various areas of renewable energy and environmental law. Program members did extensive outreach in 2010. Most particularly, Jody Endres, senior regulatory associate, presented at several national conferences on sustainability standard development, including those sponsored by American Agricultural Law Association, SWCS, and CEREL. She also contributed to several national-level sustainability standards bodies, including co-chairing the Leonardo Academy/American National Standards Institute’s Sustainable Agriculture Standard environmental subcommittee, which drafted sustainability principles; and representing EBI at the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and California Low Carbon Fuel Standard sustainability task force.

2009 Highlights

Kesan’s group published the first study of sustainability standards at all levels of government, and has played a central role in various private standard-setting initiatives for sustainable biomass production.  They examined biofuel policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS) and found that such policies are helpful but not sufficient for successful development of the ethanol industry. In addition, Kesan’s group is examining the legal, regulatory and market-based schemes for on-farm carbon sequestration and their potential to enhance income of farmers growing bioenergy crops. This study will inform policymakers developing cap and trade legislation and EPA GHG rule-making. 




Published in 2012

Overview of Legal and Regulatory Issues Related to the Use of Maize as a Feedstock for Biofuels, Jay P. Kesan and Timothy A. Slating, Compendium of Bioenergy Crops: Maize Volume, February 2012.

Definitional Debates and Uncertainty for Would-Be Biofuel Producers, James McCubbins, Lauren Quinn, A.Bryan Endres, Farmdoc Daily, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois, May 2, 2012.

A Legal Analysis of the Effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) and Clean Air Act on the Commercialization of Biobutanol as a Transportation Fuel in the United States, Timothy A. Slating and Jay P. Kesan, Global Change Biology-Bioenergy, 4(1), doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01146.x, January 9, 2012.

Published in 2011

New Hope for Dedicated Genetically Engineered Bioenergy Feedstocks?, A. Bryan Endres, Global Change Biology-Bioenergy, DOI: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01134.x, October 17, 2011.


Are Local, State and Federal Government Bioenergy Efforts Synchronized?, Stephen Kaffka, Jody Endres, Book Chapter (20), Sustainable Alternative Fuel Feedstock Opportunities, Challenges and Roadmaps for Six U.S. Regions, Soil and Water Conservation Society, October 4, 2011.


Biobutanol Blending Limits in the U.S.: An Explanation and Application of the 'Substantially Similar' Regulatory Framework, Timothy A. Slating, Biofuels International, Vol. 5, SSRN-id1932340, September 2011.


An Analysis of the Effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) and the Clean Air Act on the Commercialization of Biobutanol as a Transportation Fuel in the U.S., Timothy Slating, Jay Kesan, Social Science Research Network, Vol. 5, SSRN-id1932385, September 12, 2011.


Making Regulatory Innovation Keep Pace with Technological Innovation, Timothy A. Slating and Jay P. Kesan, Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2011, 2011.


No Free Pass: Putting the "Bio" in Biomass, Jody M. Endres, Natural Resources and Environment, 26 (1), Summer 2011.


Geologic Carbon Sequestration: Balancing Efficiency Concerns and Public Interest in Property Rights Allocations, A. Bryan Endres, University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 2011, pp. 625-650, March 2, 2011.


The Renewable Energy Policy Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together, Jay P. Kesan, University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 2011, pp. 333-339, March 3, 2011.

Published in 2010

An Economic Evaluation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Biofuel Program: An Industrial Policy Approach, Jay Kesan and Atsushi Ohyama, Social Science Research Network, LE09-035, Aug. 19, 2010.


Agriculture at a Crossroads: Energy Biomass Standards and a New Sustainability Paradigm? Jody Endres, Timothy Slating, Social Science Research Network, Working Paper Series, July 30, 2010.


Clearing the Air: The Meta-Standard Approach to Ensuring Biofuels' Environmental and Social Sustainability, Jody M. Endres, Virginia Environmental Law Journal, 28(1), February 2010.


The Biomass Crop Assistance Program: Orchestrating the Government's First Significant Step to Incentivize Biomass Production for Renewable Energy, Jody Endres, Timothy Slating, Christopher Miller, Environmental Law Reporter, 40: 10066, 2010.



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