RFS Proposal Disappoints Some Advanced Fuels Developers
The U.S. EPA has proposed new volume requirements under its Renewable Fuel Standard program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016. The agency also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017.
“The proposal would boost renewable fuel production and provide for ambitious yet responsible growth over multiple years, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry,” EPA says.
“As the top biodiesel-producing state, we are enormously relieved the biodiesel industry’s long limbo is almost over,” Iowa Biodiesel Board executive director Grant Kimberley said in a release. “Although the prolonged uncertainty strained our producers, we seem to be headed back on course for the original intent of the RFS.”
‘A Significant Increase’
EPA’s proposal marks a significant increase for biodiesel volumes from the agency’s original proposal in 2013, IBB says, which would have held the biodiesel standard flat at 1.28 billion gallons through 2015.
“This proposal is a significant step in the right direction,” National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe said in his organization’s announcement. “It is not perfect, but it will get the U.S. biodiesel industry growing again and put people back to work.”
“We believe these proposed volume requirements will provide a strong incentive for continued investment and growth in biofuels,” said Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air.
According to EPA,
The proposed 2016 standard for cellulosic biofuel – those fuels with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions profile – is more than 170 million gallons higher than the actual 2014 volumes – six times higher than actual 2014 volumes.
- The proposed 2016 standard for total renewable fuel is nearly 1.5 billion gallons more, or about 9% higher, than the actual 2014 volumes.
- The proposed 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is more than 700 million gallons – 27% – higher than the actual 2014 volumes.
- Biodiesel standards grow steadily over the next several years, increasing every year to reach 1.9 billion gallons by 2017. That’s 17% higher than the actual 2014 volumes.
“Biodiesel has displaced more than 8 billion gallons of petroleum diesel in the U.S. over the last decade,” Jobe said. “That is an incredible achievement, and we will build on that success under the proposal the EPA released today.”
But organizations interested primarily in cellulosic and other advanced biofuels were less than pleased. According to their statements in reaction to the EPA proposal,
- DuPont is disappointed with the EPA’s proposed rule on the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Renewable Volume Obligations under the RFS. Our primary concern continues to be that the EPA is proposing a flawed methodology to fundamentally change how the annual volumes for renewable fuel are calculated causing reductions in annual biofuel volumes. Instead of setting biofuels volumes, as required by statute and based on the industry’s ability to supply fuel, EPA has injected infrastructure considerations into the calculation.
“This approach undermines fundamental principles of the RFS which have been the foundation for the economic, energy security and environmental successes of the renewable fuel sector in the United States.
“Renewable fuels are a huge opportunity for the United States to achieve President Obama’s climate change goals, capture private investment, create jobs and save drivers money. Today’s proposal undermines all of that,” said Novozymes Americas president Adam Monroe. “We are disappointed that the agency is allowing Big Oil to maintain an artificial impediment like the so-called blend wall…
“The only way the world will use more renewable energy is with bold leadership and bold policy. The EPA’s aspiration should not be a slow buildup in renewable fuel volumes, it should be an economy driven by clean technologies, supporting thousands of new jobs and billions in private investment. That all starts with aggressive goals for the RFS…
“We urge the Administration to rethink its approach and support an existing law that works.”
- Citing previous rulemaking delays, “We estimate EPA is responsible for a $13.7 billion shortfall in necessary investments for advanced biofuel capacity,” said Biotechnology Industry Organization executive VP Brent Erickson. “EPA shouldn’t scratch its head and wonder why the cellulosic biofuel industry is having increasing difficulty attract capital to build additional new capacity… The previous proposed 2014 rule and the delay in finalizing it caused a measureable increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
“While transportation fuel increased from 2013 through 2014, oil companies used proportionally less renewable fuel. The result was 21 million metric tons of added CO2 emissions during the past year – equal to putting 4.4 million more cars on the road. Today’s overdue re-proposal doesn’t do enough to get the RFS program back on track.”
“More can be done,” said NBB’s Jobe. “We particularly look forward to working with the administration on strengthening biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 during the comment period in the coming weeks,” Jobe said.
EPA is to hold a public hearing on the RFS proposal on June 25 in Kansas City, Kans. The agency will take public input and comments until July 27, and promises to EPA will finalize the volume standards in this rule by November 30.
Source: U.S. EPA and multiple organization releases with Fleets & Fuels follow-up