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EPA Releases Renewable Fuel Standard Percentages for 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its proposal for the 2011 percentage standards for the four fuels categories under the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). In 2011, 7.35 percent of all motor vehicle fuel sold in the U.S., nearly 14 billion gallons, must come from renewable sources.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which must meet an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022.

Here’s the breakdown:

–16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels

–15 billion gallons annually of conventional biofuels

–4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels

–1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel

To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. As examples, in 2007, the amount was 4.02 percent or roughly 4.7 billion gallons. In 2008, Congress raised the renewables quota to 9 billion gallons from its original 5.4 million gallons (4.66 percent) due to higher oil prices.

In 2010, the EPA said ethanol and other renewable fuels must account for 8.25 percent of gasoline sales in 2010 to meet Congress’ mandate that nearly 13 billion gallons of renewable fuels be produced this year.

The EPA is proposing a 2011 cellulosic volume that is lower than the EISA target based on analysis of market availability. The lower target for cellulosic biofuels is 5 million to 17.1 million gallons, or between 0.004 to 0.015 percent because production of the biofuel hasn’t reached commercial scale, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Cellulosic ethanol, made from switchgrass, wood chips and agricultural waste, touted as having a smaller carbon footprint than fuel made from corn, provides less incentive to cut down trees or turn prairies into cropland, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

EPA is also proposing two changes to the RFS2 regulations that could impact renewable fuel producers who use canola oil, grain sorghum, pulpwood, or palm oil as a feedstock. The rule would allow the fuel produced by those feedstocks dating back to July 1, 2010 to be used for compliance if the EPA determines that these fuels meet certain greenhouse gas reduction thresholds.

The second change would set criteria for foreign feedstocks to be treated like domestic feedstocks in terms of the documentation needed to prove that they can be used to make qualifying renewable fuel under the RFS2 program.

EPA is seeking public comment on the renewable fuel standards and the proposed changes to the RFS2 regulations.

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