EPA proposes new RFS levels

Total renewable fuel volume obligation proposed slightly higher, at 18.8 billion gal.

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency released proposed 2017 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for the renewable fuel standard (RFS). EPA proposed capping the corn-based ethanol portion of the rule at 14.8 billion gal., below levels prescribed by Congress under the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. Total RVOs for the 2017 RFS were proposed at 18.8 billion gal.

Renewable Fuel Volume Requirements for 2014-18

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons)

33

123

230

312*

n/a

Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons)

1.63

1.73

1.9

2.0

2.1*

Advanced biofuel (billion gallons)

2.67

2.88

3.61

4.0*

n/a

Renewable fuel (billion gallons)

16.28

16.93

18.11

18.8*

n/a

*New proposed volume requirements.

Total renewable fuel volumes would grow by nearly 700 million gal. between 2016 and 2017, EPA said. Advanced renewable fuels – which require 50% reductions in life-cycle carbon emissions – would grow by nearly 400 million gal. between 2016 and 2017.

The non-advanced, or “conventional,” fuel portion of total renewable fuels — which requires a minimum 20% reduction in life-cycle carbon emissions — would increase by 300 million gal. between 2016 and 2017 and achieve 99% of the congressional target of 15 billion gal.

Biomass-based biodiesel — which must achieve at least 50% life-cycle emission reductions — would grow by 100 million gal. between 2017 and 2018.

Cellulosic biofuel — which requires 60% life-cycle carbon emission reductions — would grow by 82 million gal., or 35%, between 2016 and 2017.

EPA said its decision to propose volumes for total renewable fuels that rely on using both the cellulosic waiver authority and the general waiver authority use the same reasoning for lower levels in the 2014-2016 final rule.

“Despite significant increases in renewable fuel use in the United States, real-world constraints, such as the slower-than-expected development of the cellulosic biofuel industry and constraints in the marketplace needed to supply certain biofuels to consumers, have made the timeline laid out by Congress impossible to achieve,” EPA said. “These challenges remain, even as we recognize the success of the RFS program over the past decade in boosting renewable fuel use.”

EPA said the final standards set for 2007 and the final biomass-based diesel volume requirements for 2018 will take into account comments received on the proposal.

Ethanol groups welcomed the increase but said improvements can still be made. They explained that the proposed levels fail to account for the realities in the marketplace, with increased gasoline usage, historically high corn supplies and more biofuel infrastructure to accommodate higher blends. (For additional industry reaction, click here for an extended story.)

EPA will hold a public hearing on this proposal on June 9, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo. The period for public input and comment will be open until July 11.

For more information on the announcement, go to www.epa.gov/renewable-fuel-standard-program/proposed-renewable-fuel-standards-2017-and-biomass-based-diesel.

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