EPA Mandates Biofuel Volumes for 2016, Big Oil and BIO Attack Requirements
The EPA finally announced the long-delayed biofuel volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2014, 2015 and 2016, boosting the volume of renewable fuels that must be blended into US gasoline, compared to the levels the agency proposed in June.
The final RFS requirement, announced today, requires about 18 billion gallons overall for 2016 — still a major decrease from the 2007 law that projected 22.25 billion gallons of renewable fuel level by 2016.
The final 2016 standard for cellulosic biofuel — the fuel with the lowest carbon emissions — is about 200 million gallons. The EPA says this is seven times more than the market produced in 2014.
The final 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is nearly 1 billion gallons, or 35 percent, 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 percent higher than 2014 actual volumes.
Additionally, biodiesel standards increase to reach 2 billion gallons by 2017.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) attacked the RFS final rule and called it “an unnecessary, unlawful about face for a program that was successfully driving development of cleaner biofuel technologies and reduction of US greenhouse gas emissions.”
Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section said the rule delivers a harsh blow to the biofuels industry.
“EPA’s two-year delay in finalizing the rule created untenable uncertainty and shook investor confidence in the RFS program,” Erickson says. “BIO estimates that investment in the advanced biofuel sector has experienced a $13.7 billion shortfall due to EPA’s delays and proposed changes. Unfortunately, this final rule exacerbates the problem.”
Big oil doesn’t like the RFS mandates, either.
The American Petroleum Institute president and CEO Jack Gerard says while the lower ethanol mandate is a “significant step in the right direction,” the agency still isn’t doing enough and Congress should repeal or “significantly reform the outdated RFS.” He says the final rule “relies on unrealistic increases in sales of higher ethanol fuel blends despite the fact that most cars cannot use them.”
API asked EPA to set the final ethanol mandate to no more than 9.7 percent of gasoline demand to help avoid the 10 percent ethanol blend wall while meeting strong consumer demand for ethanol-free gasoline.
The 10 percent blend wall 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. Most gasoline sold in the US today is E10.
While the RFS’ effectiveness has long been called into question by the oil industry, it’s now also the subject of an EPA internal investigation, as the agency launches its own review of the environmental benefits of the biofuels mandate.
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