U.S. EPA proposes increases in volume of renewable fuels under the RFS program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed increases in renewable fuel volume requirements across all types of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program on May 18. The proposed increases would boost renewable fuel production and provide for ambitious, yet achievable, growth, according to the EPA.

“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:

•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.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set annual RFS volume requirements for four categories of biofuels. By displacing fossil fuels, biofuels help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help strengthen energy security. 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’ intent to grow the volumes of these fuels, which are part of the government’s overall strategy to enhance energy security and address climate change.

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.