The EPA today finalized the 2013 percentage standards for fuel categories that are part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program established by Congress. The overall volumes and standards require 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply. The RFS requires:
- Biomass-based diesel (1.28 billion gallons; 1.13 percent)
- Advanced biofuels (2.75 billion gallons; 1.62 percent)
- Cellulosic biofuels (6.00 million gallons; 0.004 percent)
These standards are informed by extensive engagement with industry and a thorough assessment of the biofuels market, EPA reported.
EPA received comments from numerous stakeholders concerning the “E10 blend wall” during the rulemaking. The “E10 blend wall,” expected to occur in 2014, refers to the difficulty in incorporating ethanol into the fuel supply at volumes exceeding those achieved by the sale of nearly all gasoline as E10.
EPA proposed that it will use flexibilities in the RFS statute to reduce both the advanced biofuel and total renewable volumes in the forthcoming 2014 RFS volume requirement proposal.
For 2013, the EPA has waived the cellulosic requirement from the statutory level of 1 billion gallons to 6 million gallons, but retained the overall advanced biofuel and renewable fuel requirements.
“By decreasing the cellulosic requirement by 99.4 percent to a very realistic, achievable number, the EPA has totally obliterated Big Oil’s myth that the RFS is inflexible and unworkable,” commented Bob Dinneen, president and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “As in years past, the finalized annual requirements are a testament to the inherent flexibility that is the backbone of the RFS.”
A January 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals required the agency to reevaluate projections for cellulosic biofuel to reflect market conditions. The 2013 standard for cellulosic biofuel announced today was developed in a manner consistent with the approach outlined in that ruling, EPA reported.
Brooke Coleman, executive director, Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), responded to EPA’s announcement, noting, “It is clear that U.S. EPA has done its homework when it comes to setting the 2013 standard. The commercial cellulosic biofuel facilities that U.S. EPA projected to start up in 2013 are indeed operating, and the adjusted targets reflect the number of actual gallons expected to be available through the end of the year.”
Coleman added, “We agree with U.S. EPA that there will be sufficient quantities of advanced biofuels in the market to maintain the broader advanced biofuel standard, which is consistent with the legislative intent of the RFS to promote advanced renewable fuels.”
EPA is also providing greater lead time and flexibility in complying with the 2013 volume requirements by extending the deadline to comply with the 2013 standards by four months, to June 30, 2014.
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) established the RFS program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to 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 and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.