EPA is proposing updates to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) regulations and related fuels regulations to better align the standards with the current state of the renewable fuels market and to promote the use of ethanol and non-ethanol biofuels.
Several of the proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard program would align regulations with recent developments in the marketplace resulting in increased production of cellulosic, advanced and other biofuels, EPA said.
Several companies that have developed renewable fuel production technologies that produce a “biointermediate” at one facility that is then processed into renewable fuel at another facility. EPA is proposing regulatory changes to allow fuels produced through such methods to qualify under existing approved renewable fuel production pathways. This would increase the economics and efficiency for the production of biofuels, particularly advanced and cellulosic fuels that have the lower carbon footprints.
We believe that increasing use of these “biointermediates” will likely provide an important component of the growth in renewable fuel production in the future, particularly for advanced and cellulosic biofuels. We are proposing changes in the RFS regulations to clearly specify requirements that apply when renewable fuel is produced through sequential operations at more than one facility. These changes center around the production, transfer, and use of biointermediates and the creation of new regulatory requirements related to registration, record-keeping, and reporting for facilities producing or using a biointermediate for renewable fuel production. The new requirements on the biointermediate producer would be similar to those already required for renewable fuel producers.—“Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule”
Updating fuel regulations to allow expanded availability of high ethanol fuel blends for use in flex fuel vehicles (FFVs). FFVs are designed to operate on any gasoline-ethanol mixture of up to 83% ethanol. FFVs currently represent about 8% of the US passenger vehicle fleet.
This action proposes to define fuel blends containing 16 to 83 volume percent ethanol as ethanol flex fuel (EFF) and to no longer treat fuel blends containing 16 to 50 volume percent ethanol as gasoline. The EPA is proposing environmentally protective fuel quality specifications for EFF that are consistent with those already in place for gasoline.
We anticipate that the volume of higher-level ethanol blends used in FFVs will increase substantially as the volume requirements of the RFS increase, and this proposal is intended to support this growth. Public and private initiatives are also currently underway to expand the use of blender pumps that dispense a variety of gasoline-ethanol blends for use in FFVs. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important that all fuels used in FFVs, not just gasoline, meet fuel quality standards. Regulations specifically crafted to regulate fuels used in FFVs should help to facilitate further expansion of ethanol blended fuels, which is important in satisfying the requirements of the RFS program. For these reasons, we believe it is important that clear quality standards apply to any fuel used in an FFV, including sulfur, benzene, RVP, and composing only of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur, or “CHONS.”—“Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule”
New feedstock approvals for cellulosic biofuels produced from short-rotation poplar and willow trees, cellulosic diesel produced from co-processing cellulosic feedstocks with petroleum, and renewable diesel and biodiesel produced from non-cellulosic portions of separated food waste.
These new pathways would allow for ethanol and naphtha produced from these feedstocks to qualify for cellulosic biofuel (D-code 3) RINs, and for diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil produced from these feedstocks to qualify for cellulosic biomass-based diesel (D-code 7) RINs. … our analysis shows that fuel produced from short-rotation hybrid poplar and willow trees using a variety of processing technologies meets the 60 percent GHG emissions reduction threshold needed to qualify for cellulosic biofuel (D-code 3) RINs and cellulosic biomass-based diesel (D-code 7) RINs.—“Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule”
EPA is also seeking comment on a variety of other issues that impact renewable fuels, including Renewable Identification Number generation for renewable electricity used as transportation fuel and requirements for facilities that could use carbon capture and storage as a way to reduce carbon in the production of renewable fuels in the future. The period for public input and comment will remain open for 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, Docket Nº EPA-HQ-OAR-2016-0041.