EPA finalizes 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards; cellulosic biofuels category comes in at 0.006%
27 December 2011
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). (Earlier post.) The final 2012 overall volumes and standards are:
- Biomass-based diesel (1.0 billion gallons; 0.91%)
- Advanced biofuels (2.0 billion gallons; 1.21%)
- Cellulosic biofuels (8.65 million gallons; 0.006%)
- Total renewable fuels (15.2 billion gallons; 9.2%)
In the proposed rulemaking released earlier this year for 2012, EPA had proposed a cellulosic biofuels volume ranging from 3.45–12.9 million gallons (0.002–0.010%). To arrive at this final volume, EPA considered additional factors such as the current and expected state of funding, the status of the technology, progress towards construction and production goals, and other significant factors that could potentially impact fuel production or the ability of the produced fuel to generate cellulosic Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). It also considered projections of cellulosic biofuel provided by the EIA.
Of the domestic sources, EPA estimated that six facilities can make volumes of cellulosic biofuel available for transportation use in the US in 2012:
|Volumes are ethanol-equivalent gallons. Click to enlarge.|
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the RFS2 program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year.
Determining the applicable standards under RFS requires EPA to conduct an evaluation of the volume of qualifying cellulosic biofuel that can be made available the following year. 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 final rule provides EPA’s determination of the projected production of cellulosic biofuel for 2012, and the final percentage standards for compliance year 2012.
Based on the standard, each refiner and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel. For 2012, the program is implementing EISA’s requirement to blend more than 1.25 billion gallons of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2011.
Last spring EPA had proposed a volume requirement of 1.28 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel for 2013. EISA specifies a one billion gallon minimum volume requirement for that category for 2013 and beyond, but enables EPA to increase the volume requirement after consideration of a variety of environmental, market, and energy-related factors. EPA is continuing to evaluate the many comments from stakeholders on the proposed biomass-based diesel volume for 2013 and will take final action next year.
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