EPA finalizes increased RFS biofuel levels

EPA finalizes increased RFS biofuel levels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017. This rule finalizes higher volumes of renewable fuel than the levels EPA proposed in June, boosting renewable production and providing support for robust, achievable growth of the biofuels industry. 

 “The biofuel industry is an incredible American success story, and the RFS program has been an important driver of that success—cutting carbon pollution, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and sparking rural economic development,” said Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “With today’s final rule, and as Congress intended, EPA is establishing volumes that go beyond historic levels and grow the amount of biofuel in the market over time. Our standards provide for ambitious, achievable growth.”

With final standards in place for the year ahead, biofuel producers and blenders are in a better position to plan and invest – putting the market on stable ground and supporting further growth and innovation in the renewable fuels industry.

The final 2016 standard for cellulosic biofuel — the fuel with the lowest carbon emissions — is nearly 200 million gallons, or 7 times more, than the market produced in 2014. The final 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is nearly 1 billion gallons, or 35%, higher than the actual 2014 volumes; the total renewable standard requires growth from 2014 to 2016 of more than 1.8 billion gallons of biofuel, which is 11% higher than 2014 actual volumes. Biodiesel standards grow steadily over the next several years, increasing every year to reach 2 billion gallons by 2017.

The RFS, established by Congress, requires EPA to set annual volume requirements for four categories of biofuels. The final rule considered more than 670,000 public comments, and relied on the latest, most accurate data available. EPA finalized 2014 and 2015 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel used in those years, and standards for 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) that represent significant growth over historical levels. 

Final Renewable Fuel Volumes 

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons)

33

123

230

n/a

Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons)

1.63

1.73 

1.90

2.00

Advanced biofuel (billion gallons) 

2.67

2.88

3.61

n/a

Renewable fuel (billion gallons)

16.28

16.93

18.11

n/a

Read more about the final rule. 

 

Reaction from USDA

Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary of Agriculture

"The rule released today is a positive step forward providing for continued growth in all parts of the Renewable Fuel Standard—advanced, biodiesel, cellulosic, and conventional—building on the Obama Administration's and USDA's commitment to biofuels and American-grown renewable energy. While the Renewable Fuel Standard is one piece of the equation of this commitment, it is not the only piece. Significant strategic investments by this Administration across the board in feedstock production, research, refining capacity, distribution and new market development have resulted in an a sophisticated and growing American biofuels industry."

"America's renewable energy industry has quickly expanded and evolved since 2009 when the Obama Administration embraced an all-of-the-above energy strategy. Since then, we have more than doubled renewable energy production, and today we import less than half our oil. We are saving Americans money at the pump with improved and expanded ethanol and biodiesel production. Our national security has been bolstered because we are more energy secure and also because our nation's military is a major commercial customer for U.S. biofuels. We're also combatting climate change with investments in technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide for cleaner air. And we're building our economy by exporting U.S. biofuels to other nations, stabilizing farm prices with expanded production, and creating good jobs in small towns and rural communities.

"This unprecedented commitment is part of the reason why, even in recent years when there has been some uncertainty with RFS, we have seen continued growth in biofuels production and consumption. USDA and this Administration remain committed to using the full set of tools at our disposal to expand the use of biofuels, which support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, bring choice and savings to consumers when they fill up at the pump, support American producers, expand new markets for rural-grown and -made products, and drive economic investment in rural America."

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