This story was updated 1/31/2013 at 5:42 p.m.WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2013 -- EPA today released its volumetric requirements proposed for 2013 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). The proposal is open for a 45-day public comment period.
The volumes and standards issued by the agency today are:
· Biomass-based diesel (1.28 billion gallons; 1.12 percent)
· Advanced biofuels (2.75 billion gallons; 1.60 percent)
· Cellulosic biofuels (14 million gallons; 0.008 percent)
· Total renewable fuels (16.55 billion gallons; 9.63 percent)
The proposed volume for cellulosic biofuels comes less than a week after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled EPA must revise its cellulosic biofuel projections for 2012, granting a partial victory to the American Petroleum Institute (API), which had challenged the agency’s rulemaking.
EPA said today that “the approach to developing the cellulosic standards being proposed for 2013 is consistent” with the court's ruling.
The agency said volumes recommended for 2013 are the minimum that would need to be consumed in the United States reflecting expected production. The percentage standards represent the ratio of renewable fuel volume to non-renewable gasoline and diesel volume.
In 2007, The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) established the RFS2 program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. For 2013, the proposal implements the requirement to blend more than 1.35 billion gallons of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2012.
For 2012, EPA set a cellulosic biofuel production volume of 8.65 million gallons. Although the EPA’s 2013 proposed volume of cellulosic biofuel is 60 percent more than that proposed for last year, EISA set an original expectation for cellulosic biofuel volume as 1 billion gallons by 2013.
“Cellulosic biofuels are being produced now and millions of gallons of cellulosic fuel are expected to come online in the next two years,” according to a statement from the Fuels America Coalition. “With the release of EPA’s 2013 RFS volumes, cellulosic innovators and producers around the country are continuing to work towards these targets.”
Despite the ruling in federal court last week on last year's cellulosic mandate, biofuel advocates said the decision was also a victory for EPA because it upheld the total volume of advanced biofuels that refiners, importers and blenders are expected to purchase in order to meet requirements under the RFS.
In an opinion for the three-judge court, Senior Judge Stephen Williams said the court agreed with API that the 8.65 million gallons number was based on open-ended projections rather than adhering to the language contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and later amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
“While the program as a whole is plainly intended to promote that technology, we are not convinced that Congress meant for EPA to let that intent color its work as a predictor, to let the wish be the father of the thought,” Williams wrote.
In response to EPA’s 2013 RFS standards proposal, Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen said the requirements “will be the catalyst that finally compels oil companies to get serious about breaching the so-called blend wall.”
“This year’s RFS requirements will necessitate the use of more E15, E85 and other higher-level blends. Injecting larger volumes of biofuels into the U.S. fuel supply and spurring a more rapid transition to domestically produced renewables is exactly what the RFS was intended to do,” he said.
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