EPA releases RFS number proposals

Yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) across all types of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. According to the EPA, the proposed increases would boost renewable fuel production and provide for ambitious yet achievable growth.

“The Renewable Fuel Standards program is a success story that has driven biofuel production and use in the U.S. to levels higher than any other nation,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “This administration is committed to keeping the RFS program on track, spurring continued growth in biofuel production and use, and achieving the climate and energy independence benefits that Congress envisioned from this program.”

The proposed volumes would represent growth over historic levels including:

  • Total renewable fuel volumes would grow by nearly 700 million gallons between 2016 and 2017.
  • Advanced renewable fuel — which requires 50% lifecycle carbon emissions reductions — would grow by nearly 400 million gallons between 2016 and 2017.
  • The non-advanced or “conventional” fuels portion of total renewable fuels — which requires a minimum of 20% lifecycle carbon emissions reductions — would increase by 300 million gallons between 2016 and 2017 and achieve 99% of the Congressional target of 15 billion gallons.
  • Biomass-based biodiesel — which must achieve at least 50% lifecycle emissions reductions — would grow by 100 million gallons between 2017 and 2018.
  • Cellulosic biofuel — which requires 60% lifecycle carbon emissions reductions — would grow by 82 million gallons, or 35%, between 2016 and 2017.

Renewable Fuel Volume Requirements for 2014-2018

  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons)

33

123

230

312*

n/a
Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons)

1.63

1.73

1.9

2.0

2.1*
Advanced biofuel (billion gallons)

2.67

2.88

3.61

4.0*

n/a
Renewable fuel (billion gallons) 16.28 16.93 18.11 18.8* n/a

*Proposed Volume Requirements

While the numbers from the EPA have increased ethanol use mandates, Ohio’s corn growers and ethanol proponents were still not pleased with the numbers that fell significantly short of what the RFS originally proposed.

“As Ohio’s farmers are trying to get this season’s crop in the ground, the U.S. EPA has put up another roadblock to our access of the corn market. The EPA today released their proposal to set ethanol volumes below what is called for by law in the RFS,” said Chad Kemp, president of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “The RFS has been a tremendous success for Ohio’s economy and agriculture by opening the door for opportunities to turn our grain into energy. It has been a win-win for Ohio and the U.S. to promote biofuels that increase our energy independence, clean our air and help keep our energy dollars here in our communities instead of sending them overseas.

“We are disappointed the EPA did not follow what is laid out in the RFS and will continue to press them to stand-up for rural America and keep the door open to market access for Ohio made biofuels. We call on all Ohioans to let the EPA know what the RFS and biofuels mean to our state.”

In addition, the EPA’s 2.1 billion gallon 2018 requirement for biodiesel is too low to accurately reflect industry growth potential of the industry, according to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

“We appreciate the EPA’s timeliness in releasing these volumes and its support for growing biodiesel use under the RFS, but this proposal significantly understates the amount of biodiesel this industry can sustainably deliver to the market,” said Anne Steckel, with NBB. “We have plenty of feedstock and production capacity to exceed 2.5 billion gallons today, and can certainly do so in 2018.”

NBB believes EPA can easily call for at least 2.5 billion gallons in 2018 after nearly 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel were delivered under the RFS in 2015. There is substantial unused production and distribution capacity in the United States, and the U.S. industry has already diversified its feedstocks and expanded into renewable diesel to increase its production.

“We have made tremendous progress in cleaning up vehicle emissions but the fact remains that petroleum still accounts for about 90% of our transportation fuel,” Steckel said. “We need meaningful RFS growth to continue making a real dent in our oil dependence and to continue driving investment.”

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set annual RFS volume requirements for four categories of biofuels. EPA is proposing to use the tools provided by Congress to adjust the standards below the statutory targets, but the steadily increasing volumes in the proposal continue to support Congress’s intent to grow the volumes of these important fuels that are part of the nation’s overall strategy to enhance energy security and address climate change. EPA implements the program in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.

EPA will hold a public hearing on this proposal on June 9, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo. The period for public input and comment will be open until July 11.

 

 

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