EPA proposes new RFS levels 15413

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

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

May 18, 2016

3 Min Read
EPA proposes new RFS levels

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

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.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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