EPA seeks comments on 2014 RFS, waiver

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – setting levels of renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline and diesel in 2014 – for public comment. The proposal seeks to ensure long-term growth of the renewable fuel industry, while seeking input on different approaches to address the “E10 blend wall.”

In a separate action, EPA is also seeking comment on petitions for a waiver of the RFS that would apply in 2014.  EPA expects that a determination on the substance of the petitions will be issued at the same time that EPA issues a final rule establishing the 2014 RFS.

 The RFS program, established under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, sets annual volume requirements for renewable fuels in all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported by the United States in 2014. The proposal discusses a variety of approaches for setting the 2014 standards, and includes a number of production and consumption ranges for key categories of biofuel covered by the RFS program. The proposal seeks comment on a range of total renewable fuel volumes for 2014 and proposes a level within that range of 15.21 billion gallons. Specifically, EPA is seeking comment on the following proposed volumes:

 

Category Proposed Volume Range
Cellulosic biofuel  17 mill gal 8-30 million gallons
Biomass-based diesel 1.28 bill gal 1.28 billion gallons
Advanced biofuel  2.20 bill gal 2.0-2.51 billion gallons
Renewable fuel 15.21 bill gal 15.00-15.52 billion gallons

All volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel which is actual

 

Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. is now “E10,” which is fuel with up to 10% ethanol. Production of renewable fuels has been growing rapidly in recent years.  At the same time, advances in vehicle fuel economy and other economic factors have pushed gasoline consumption far lower than what was expected when Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007.  As a result, we are now at the “E10 blend wall,” the point at which the E10 fuel pool is saturated with ethanol. If gasoline demand continues to decline, as currently forecast, continuing growth in the use of ethanol will require greater use of higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85. 

The Obama Administration has taken a number of steps to allow or encourage the use of these higher ethanol blends. In 2010, EPA approved E15 for use in vehicles newer than model year 2001, and developed labeling rules to enable retailers to market E15. In addition, since 2011, USDA has made funding available through the Renewable Energy Assistance Program to support deployment of “flex-fuel” pumps that can dispense a range of ethanol blends.  The 2014 proposal seeks input on what additional actions could be taken by government and industry to help overcome current market challenges, and to minimize the need for adjustments in the statutory renewable fuel volume requirements in the future.   

Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, it will be open to a 60-day public comment period.

More information on the standards and regulations: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm

More information on renewable fuels: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/index.htm