EPA’s New Renewable Fuels Proposal Not Enough for Some

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Wednesday proposed an increase in renewable fuel volume requirements across all types of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The requirements were set for the years 2014-2018. Even though 2014 and 2015 have passed, the EPA had not officially set these renewable fuel volume requirements previously.

The biggest changes, if implemented, will be seen in 2016 and 2017. This year, 230 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel are required to be produced, a gain of 107 million gallons compared to 2015. The biomass-based diesel requirement will rise 170 million gallons year over year to 1.9 billion gallons; advanced biofuel production will increase from 2.88 billion gallons to 3.6 billion gallons; and renewable fuel will rise from 16.93 billion gallons to 18.11 billion gallons.

In 2017, cellulosic biofuel production is proposed to increase to 312 million gallons; biomass-based diesel to 2 billion gallons; advanced biofuel to 4 billion gallons; and renewable fuel to 18.8 billion gallons.

According to the EPA, its proposal would boost renewable fuel production and provide for “ambitious yet achievable growth.”

“The Renewable Fuel Standard 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.”

However, some in the industry, like Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, which represents the producers and supporters of ethanol, believes the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

“We are encouraged that the EPA proposal takes a step forward, signaling the critical importance of cleaner-burning, less expensive biofuels, like ethanol. However, it still falls short of the goals of the RFS. Ethanol producers, retailers and the current auto fleet are fully capable of providing consumers with a true choice at the pump,” she said.

Jim Talent, chairman of Americans for Energy Security and Innovation, expressed a similar sentiment.

“The Obama Administration’s proposed targets fall short of the goals for energy security that Congress outlined in the RFS,” he said. “America’s domestic biofuels industry has already proven that it can surpass these targets, and our goal should be to maximize the renewable choices that consumers have at the pump. The EPA is moving in a positive direction, but we are leaving homegrown energy on the table, and that means more money and influence will flow to the foreign nations that seek to manipulate the global oil market.”

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, called the EPA proposal “yet another missed opportunity for consumers, energy security and rural America.”

“While we’re pleased with the timing of the announcement, getting the RFS back on track should mean more than meeting calendar deadlines with numbers that simply memorialize what is already happening in the fuel market. It should mean getting the RFS back to pushing against the entrenched petroleum monopoly and increasing consumer access to cleaner-burning, homegrown renewable fuels,” Shaw remarked.

The EPA is required to set annual RFS volume requirements for four categories of biofuels under the Clean Air Act. When displacing fossil fuels, biofuels purportedly help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help strengthen energy security.

The EPA will hold a public hearing on its proposal June 9 in Kansas City. The period for public comment will open July 11.

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