EPA approves grain sorghum under Renewable Fuel Standard

By Aarian Marshall

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 - The EPA announced yesterday its approval of grain sorghum as an eligible feedstock under the Renewable Fuel Standard, meaning that advanced biofuels may now be produced from cereal.

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The news follows a June EPA report showing that grain sorghum meets the “lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction threshold of 20% required by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007” when it is used to make ethanol at natural gas facilities. The analysis found that grain sorghum has an estimated lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 32% when produced in natural gas facilities, and of 52% when produced in biogas facilities.

“NSP  [National Sorghum Producers] has worked tirelessly for more than two years to make this happen,” NSP Chairman Terry Swanson said in a press release yesterday. “A pathway for grain sorghum as an advanced biofuel not only incentivizes ethanol plants to use grain sorghum as a biofuel feedstock, but it also adds value and profitability for the producer.” The NSP said that it expects at least one ethanol plant to qualify for grain sorghum use “very soon.”

In November, a white paper from the advocacy group Ethanol Across America encouraged the use of grain sorghum, among other alternative feedstocks, in creating Gen 1.5 of ethanol fuels. “Revising RFS2 to encourage development of these alternatives is the most sensible strategy that will lead to genuine reductions in [greenhouse gas] emissions and genuine growth of the biofuels industry,” Philip W. Madson, the white paper's author, wrote.

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