IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Conflicting Goals: Energy Security vs. GHG Reductions under the EISA Cellulosic Ethanol Mandate


  • Fraas, Arthur

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Johansson, Robert


Increasing energy security and lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been prominent goals in recent energy and environmental policies. While these goals are often complementary, there may also be cases where they conflict. A case in point is the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). The goals of EISA are to increase the United States' energy independence and security as well as to increase the production of clean renewable fuels. Title II of EISA establishes mandates for increasing the use of low carbon fuels to replace gasoline. While the Title II mandates will meet the energy security goal of EISA, the mandate for the use of at least 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2022 may conflict with efforts to reduce substantially the nation's GHG emissions over the next 20 years. The nation's production capacity for biomass is likely to be limited and the use of biomass to replace coal in generating electricity yields 2 to 3 times the GHG reduction associated with using cellulosic ethanol to displace gasoline. Thus, there is a trade-off between the energy security gains of the biofuels mandate under EISA and the more effective (in terms of GHG emission reductions) use of biomass in the electric utility sector. One means of evaluating this trade-off is to examine the factors that affect the costeffectiveness of diverting biomass from electricity production to cellulosic ethanol production. This paper identifies some of the key factors that affect the cost-effectiveness of the energy security and climate change goals of EISA. The cost-effectiveness of EISA will depend on (1) constraints on biomass production, that is, the extent to which the EISA mandate may crowd out the use of biomass to generate electricity; (2) the world oil price (and the cost of production of cellulosic ethanol); and (3) the social cost of carbon.

Suggested Citation

  • Fraas, Arthur & Johansson, Robert, 2009. "Conflicting Goals: Energy Security vs. GHG Reductions under the EISA Cellulosic Ethanol Mandate," Discussion Papers dp-09-24, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-09-24

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    energy security; cost-effective policy; cellulosic ethanol;

    JEL classification:

    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-09-24. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Webmaster). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.