The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2011 percentage standards for the four categories of fuel—cellulosic, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuels—under the agency’s renewable fuel standard program, known as RFS2. This regulatory action finalizes these annual standards that apply to all gasoline and diesel produced or imported in year 2011. EPA had proposed percentages earlier in the year. (Earlier post.)
Determining the applicable standards under RFS2 requires EPA to conduct an in-depth 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 2011 overall volume and standards are:
- Cellulosic biofuel: 6.6 million gallons; 0.003%. Based on an analysis of expected market availability, EPA is finalizing a much lower 2011 cellulosic volume than the statutory target (originally 250 million gallons for 2011). Overall, EPA remains optimistic that the commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel will continue to grow in the years ahead.
- Biomass-based diesel: 800 million gallons; 0.69%
- Advanced biofuel: 1.35 billion gallons; 0.78%
- Renewable fuel: 13.95 billion gallons; 8.01%
The final rule also presents two changes to the RFS2 regulations. The first modifies the provision for “delayed RINs” to make it more broadly applicable to any biofuel production pathway so long as the biofuel was in commercial production on 1 July 2010, EPA receives a petition pursuant to Section 80.1416 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) by January 31, 2011, and EPA determines that the fuel pathway provides appropriate greenhouse gas reductions as required by EISA.
The second regulatory provision being finalized in this rulemaking establishes criteria for EPA to use in determining whether to approve petitions for foreign-grown feedstocks so that they may use an aggregate approach to comply with the renewable biomass verification provisions, akin to that applicable to producers using crops and crop residue grown in the United States.
The final rule also presents two administrative announcements. First, EPA is announcing the price for cellulosic biofuel waiver credits. Second, EPA is announcing the results of its annual assessment of the aggregate compliance approach for US crops and crop residue.
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) amended the Clean Air Act to greatly increase the total required volume of renewable fuels each year, reaching a level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, each November the EPA calculates percentage-based standards for the following year. Based on the standards, each producer and importer of gasoline and diesel determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.