EPA Proposes 2011 Renewable Fuel Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday proposed the 2011 percentage standards for the four fuels categories under the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program, known as RFS2.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the annual renewable fuel volume targets, reaching 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, importer and non-oxygenate blender of gasoline determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.

The proposed 2011 overall volumes and standards are:

  • Biomass-based diesel (0.80 billion gallons; 0.68%)
  • Advanced biofuels (1.35 billion gallons; 0.77%)
  • Cellulosic biofuels (5 – 17.1 million gallons; 0.004 – 0.015%)
  • Total renewable fuels (13.95 billion gallons; 7.95%)

Based on analysis of market availability, EPA is proposing a 2011 cellulosic volume that is lower than the EISA target. EPA said it will continue to evaluate the market as it works to finalize the cellulosic standard in the coming months. The commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead, but supply is currently much lower than the targets set in 2007 for this year.

In February, EPA cut the cellulosic ethanol mandate for 2010 from 100 million gallons to a mere 6.5 million gallons.

EPA is also proposing changes to the RFS2 regulations that would potentially apply to renewable fuel producers who use canola oil, grain sorghum, pulpwood, or palm oil as a feedstock. This program rule would allow the fuel produced by those feedstocks dating back to July 1, 2010 be used for compliance should EPA determine in a future rulemaking that such fuels meet certain greenhouse gas reduction thresholds.

The second change would set criteria for foreign feedstocks to be treated like domestic feedstocks in terms of the documentation needed to prove that they can be used to make qualifying renewable fuel under the RFS2 program.

EPA is seeking public comment on the renewable fuel standards and the proposed changes to the RFS2 regulations, which are due 30 days following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.

July 1, 2010, was the deadline that major refiners, blenders, and importers had to meet for reporting, registration, and other key compliance requirements under EPA’s expanded renewable fuels standard program.

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