The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the volume requirements under its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for blending with the nation's fuel supply that includes increases from existing levels but falls short of expectations from producers.
The agency finalized manadates for cellulosic biofuel, including ethanol for 2016, as well as final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2016 and 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 agency said in a press release.
The final 2016 standard for the fuel with the lowest carbon emissions — cellulosic biofuel — is nearly 200 million gallons, or seven times more, than what 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 National Biodiesel Board seemed to be fairly happy with the RFS rule, while backers of cellulosic ethanol expressed disappointment.
“It is a good rule," said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. "It may not be all we had hoped for but it will go a long way toward getting the U.S. biodiesel industry growing again and reducing our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.”
The Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen, on the other hand, said that the ruling, “turns our nation’s most successful energy policy on its head,” and fears that it “will deepen uncertainty in the marketplace and thus chill investment in second-generation biofuels.”
The final rule considered more than 670,000 public comments, and relied on the latest, most accurate data available, according to the EPA’s press release.
The agency 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.