The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the 2011 percentage standards for the four fuels categories under the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2): cellulosic biofuel; biomass-based diesel; advanced biofuel; and renewable fuel.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the annual renewable fuel volume targets, reaching an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner, importer and non-oxygenate blender of gasoline determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.
If the projected available volume of cellulosic biofuel is less than the required volume specified in the statute, EPA must lower the required volume used to set the annual cellulosic biofuel percentage standard to the projected available volume. EPA must also determine whether the advanced biofuel and/or total renewable fuel volumes should be reduced by the same or a lesser amount.
The proposed rule provides EPA’s evaluation of the projected production of cellulosic biofuel for 2011, and proposed percentage standards for compliance year 2011.
|Proposed volumes and percentages for 2011|
(Mil. gal. US)
|Ethanol Equiv. Vol.|
(Mil. gal. US)
|Cellulosic biofuel||5 - 17.1||6.5 - 25.5||0.004-0.015%|
Based on analysis of market availability, EPA is proposing a 2011 cellulosic volume that is lower than the EISA target. To calculate the percentage standard for cellulosic biofuel for 2011, EPA used a potential volume range of 6.5 - 25.5 million ethanol-equivalent gallons (representing 5 - 17.1 million physical gallons).
For the final rule, EPA intends to pick a single value from within this range to represent the projected available volume on which the 2011 percentage standard for cellulosic biofuel will be based. EPA is also proposing that the applicable volumes for biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for 2011 will be those specified in the statute.
EPA will continue to evaluate the market as it works to finalize the cellulosic standard in the coming months. Overall, EPA remains optimistic that the commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel will continue to grow in the years ahead.
EPA is also proposing changes to the RFS2 regulations that would potentially apply to renewable fuel producers who use canola oil, grain sorghum, pulpwood, or palm oil as a feedstock. This program rule would allow the fuel produced by those feedstocks dating back to 1 July 2010 be used for compliance should EPA determine in a future rulemaking that such fuels meet certain greenhouse gas reduction thresholds.
The second change would set criteria for foreign feedstocks to be treated like domestic feedstocks in terms of the documentation needed to prove that they can be used to make qualifying renewable fuel under the RFS2 program.
EPA is seeking public comment on the renewable fuel standards and the proposed changes to the RFS2 regulations, which are due 30 days following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.