U.S. EPA proposes 2018 RFS volumes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed volume requirements and associated percentage standards for 2018 that would maintain renewable fuel volumes at levels comparable to the 2017 Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program. The RFS program requires increased volumes of renewable fuels each year, but the EPA proposal released yesterday would keep targets for use of conventional biofuels at current levels.

Some key elements of the EPA’s proposal include:

  • Non-advanced or “conventional” renewable fuel volumes are maintained at the 15-billion gallon target set by the U.S. Congress.
  • The biomass-based diesel standard for 2019 would be maintained at the 2018 levels of 2.1 billion gallons.

The EPA proposed a total renewable fuel volume of 19.24 billion gallons for 2018, of which 4.24 billion gallons is advanced biofuel, including 238 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, leaving a 15-billion-gallon requirement for conventional renewable fuels.

The EPA also said in a press release that the agency is “beginning technical analysis that will inform a future rule to reset the statutory volumes for cellulosic, advanced, and total biofuels.”

EPA Proposed RFS Volumes.
Chart courtesy of U.S. EPA.

“The Clean Air Act requires EPA to reset volume targets when certain conditions are met. We expect those conditions to be met in the near future, so we are conducting technical analysis now, to inform future reset rules,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents oil majors, “welcomed the EPA’s proposal to slightly lower the total biofuel volume for 2018 but says that move does not go far enough.” It called for congressional reform of the RFS “ because the primary goals of the RFS have been achieved,” the API said in a statement, “not by ethanol mandates but market forces and technological innovations, leaving the policy with only hypothetical benefits and added costs to consumers.”

“We are pleased EPA is proposing to maintain the conventional biofuel requirement at the 15 billion gallon level required by the statute, just as EPA finalized in its 2017 RVO. Consumers only see the full benefits of the RFS when EPA implements the policy as intended by Congress. By staying the course and maintaining a strong RFS, consumers will continue to benefit from the policy, including a greater choice at the pump, while breathing cleaner air and seeing a boost to local economies,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The EPA said it is also taking comment on addressing concerns that some RFS obligations are increasingly met with imported fuel from Brazil, Argentina and Indonesia.