EPA proposes 2013 standards for RFS; cellulosic biofuel at 14 million gallons
31 January 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the 2013 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). The proposal comes shortly after the DC Circuit Court vacated the EPA’s 2012 cellulosic biofuels standard for the RFS. (Earlier post.)
The cellulosic biofuel standard for 2012—vacated by the court for being too high given the reality in the market—was 8.65 million gallons. (Earlier post.) Congress, via EISA, had originally thought to have 500 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2012. The standard proposed by the EPA for 2013 is 14 million gallons.
The proposed 2013 overall volumes and standards are:
- Biomass-based diesel (1.28 billion gallons; 1.12%)
- Advanced biofuels (2.75 billion gallons; 1.60%)
- Cellulosic biofuels (14 million gallons; 0.008%)
- Total renewable fuels (16.55 billion gallons; 9.63%)
We are proposing to set the 2013 standard for cellulosic biofuel at 14 million gallons. The approach to developing the cellulosic standards being proposed for 2013 is consistent with a ruling from January 2013 by U.S. Court of Appeals for DC, and we believe the sum of these volumes expected by the specific companies noted in the proposal (14 million gallons) is a reasonable representation of expected production. This projection reflects EPA’s current estimate of what will actually happen in 2013, and we will consider public comments before setting the final cellulosic standard.—EPA
To estimate the volume of cellulosic biofuel that can be made available in the US in 2013, EPA researched all potential production sources by company and facility. This included sources that were still in the planning stages, those that were under construction, and those that are already producing some volume of cellulosic ethanol, cellulosic diesel, or some other type of cellulosic biofuel.
From this universe of potential cellulosic biofuel sources, the agency identified the subset that could be producing commercial volumes of qualifying cellulosic biofuel for use as transportation fuel in 2013.
The assessment focused on domestic sources of cellulosic biofuel. At the time of this proposal no internationally-based cellulosic biofuel production facilities have registered under the RFS program and therefore no volume from international producers was included in the projections for 2013.
Of the domestic sources, EPA estimated that up to four facilities may produce commercial-scale volumes of cellulosic biofuel available for transportation use in the US in 2013. Two of these four facilities have made sufficient progress for EPA to project that commercial scale production from these two facilities will occur. The four (and EPA’s estimate of projected available volumes) are:
- Abengoa, 0
- Fiberight, 0
- INEOS Bio, 6 million gallons
- KiOR, 8 million gallons
EPA projects that Abengoa and Fiberight will begin production in the 4Q of 2013.
The proposal is open for a 45-day public comment period and EPA will consider feedback from a range of stakeholders before the proposal is finalized.
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. 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 2013, the RFS2 program is proposing to implement EISA’s requirement to blend more than 1.35 billion gallons of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2012.
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