Biofuels and the Environment: the First Triennial Report to Congress (2011 Final Report)

EPA announced the release of the final report,Biofuels and the Environment: The First Triennial Report to Congress (EPA/600/R-10/183F), prepared by the National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) within EPA’s Office of Research and Development, as the first EPA report published on this issue. The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) mandates increased production of biofuels (fuels derived from organic materials) from 9 billion gallons per year in 2008 to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. Additionally, EISA (Section 204) also requires that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assess and report to Congress every three years on the current and potential future environmental and resource conservation impacts associated with increased biofuel production and use.

This is the first triennial Report to Congress required under Section 204 of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). EISA increases the renewable fuel standards (RFS) to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. Section 204 requires an assessment of environmental and resource conservation impacts of the RFS program. Air and water quality, soil quality and conservation, water availability, ecosystem health and biodiversity, invasive species, and international impacts are assessed, as well as opportunities to mitigate these impacts.

The feedstocks compared in this qualitative assessment of peer-reviewed literature include corn starch, soybeans, corn stover, perennial grasses, woody biomass, algae, and waste. Biofuels compared include conventional and cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. This report concludes that (1) the extent of negative impacts to date are limited in magnitude and are primarily associated with the intensification of corn production; (2) whether future impacts are positive or negative will be determined by the choice of feedstock, land use change, cultivation and conservation practices; and (3) realizing potential benefits will require implementation and monitoring of conservation and best management practices, improvements in production efficiency, and implementation of innovative technologies at commercial scales. This report provides a foundation for comprehensive environmental assessments of biofuel production.


U.S. EPA. Biofuels and the Environment: the First Triennial Report to Congress (2011 Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-10/183F, 2011.


Dec 2009EPA conducted an interagency review for comments on the draft report.
Nov 2010EPA finalizes the 2011 Renewable Fuel Standards (PDF, 3pp, 505Kb, About PDF).
Jan 2011EPA released the biofuels report to Congress external review draft for public review and comment.
Mar 2011EPA hosted a public peer review meeting to review the draft report. [Federal Register Notice Jan 28, 2011]
Jan 2012EPA released the final report.
Jun 2018EPA released a Second Triennial Report to Congress on Biofuels and the Environment