The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the 2009 Renewable Fuel Standard to 10.21% to ensure that at least 11.1 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into transportation gasoline. This standard is used by obligated parties—refiners, importers and blenders (other than oxygen blenders)—to calculate their renewable volume obligation. The EPA expects the 11.1 billion gallons of renewable fuel required in 2009 ultimately to include approximately 0.5 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel.
The 2009 standard marks a 23.3% increase by volume of the 2008 RFS of 9 billion gallons, but a 31.6% increase by percentage volume from 7.76% in 2008. The larger relative increase is due to expectations of lower fuel consumption in 2009.
The EPA expects 138.47 billion gallons of gasoline blends will be sold in 2009 in the 48 contiguous states plus Hawaii, down from the 144.5 billion gallons EPA expected to be sold this year—a 4.2% decrease.
The 2009 RFS requirement is being issued under the auspices of the Renewable Fuel Standard established by The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) (RFS1). This has been superceded legislatively by Renewable Fuel Standard requirements established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) (RFS2).
Some of the major changes enacted in RFS2 include:
Expansion of the volume of renewable fuel (36 billion gallons by 2022).
Separation of the renewable fuel volume requirements into four categories: cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel.
Changes to the definition of renewable fuels and criteria (e.g. life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission performance including such factors as indirect land use) for determining which if any of the four renewable fuel categories a given renewable fuel is eligible to meet.
Expansion of the fuel pool subject to the standards to include diesel and certain nonroad fuels and expansion of the obligated parties to include refiners, certain blenders, and importers of those fuels.
Inclusion of specific types of waivers and EPA-generated credits for cellulosic biofuel.
EPA is still developing a rulemaking that will outline its approach to all these changes to the RFS2 program. Until EPA issues final regulations to implement the changes, however, the changes required by EISA are generally not applicable, and the RFS1 regulations continue to apply.
One major exception to this is in the volume amount. The new statutory renewable fuel volume must be used under the RFS1 regulations to generate the standard for 2009. Under RFS1 volumes, the target for 2009 would have been 6.1 billion gallons. The RFS program in 2009 will continue to be applicable to producers and importers of gasoline only.
This leaves, for the moment, unanswered the question of how to implement the EISA requirement for use of 0.5 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel. The EPA says that it will propose an approach in its forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for RFS2: The EPA plans to increase the 2010 biomass-based diesel requirement by 0.5 billion gallons and allow 2009 biodiesel and renewable diesel RINs to be used to meet this combined 2009/2010 requirement.
EPA outlines the full calculation to reach the 10.21% standard for 2009 in its notice published in the Federal Register.
2009 RFS notice for Federal Register