EPA Issues Renewable Fuel Standards for 2012

Annual target-setting finally released, but at least one biofuels group is urging target setting for 2013 and beyond.

Published on: Dec 28, 2011

Renewable fuel groups have been clamoring for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue the final 2012 renewable fuel standards. These are the percentage standards as part of the agency's renewable fuel standard program, which aims to promote greater use of biofuels.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established the RFS2 program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to hit an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year and based on that standard each refiner and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.

Here are the final volumes for 2012:

Biomass-based diesel - 1 billion gallons (0.91%)

Advanced biofuels - 2 billion gallons (1.21%)

Cellulosic biofuels - 8.65 million gallons (0.006%)

Total renewable fuels - 15.2 billion gallons (9.23%)

While a growing percentage is met with new-generation biofuels, that number means nearly 12.2 billion gallons will come from corn-based ethanol.

One key number - that biomass-based diesel - is good news for the National Biodiesel Board, which would like to see targets for 2013 set sooner than year-end 2012. The group notes the 1-billion gallon target set for 2012 is easily achievable since the industry has produced 908 million gallons through November and there's a month of data left.

"This industry has shown without a doubt that it can meet and exceed the goals of this program in a sustainable way, with a diverse mix of feedstocks," said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at NBB, the trade association for the U.S. biodiesel industry. "Our industry has plants in nearly every state in the country that are hiring new employees and ramping up production, in part because of the demand that this policy creates. As the only EPA-designated advanced biofuel being produced on a commercial scale nationwide, we look forward to continued growth in 2012."

Steckel also urged the administration to issue a final rule for 2013 volumes raising the Biomass-based Diesel requirement to 1.28 billion gallons, as the EPA proposed earlier this year. The EPA on Tuesday postponed finalizing the 2013 volume, saying it needs more time for review.

"We would have preferred to see that number released in this announcement and hope to see it finalized soon so that our member companies can plan their investments and continue boosting this economy," Steckel said. "The increase will create thousands of jobs, improve our energy security by diversifying the fuel supply and cut down on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."

A recent study shows that 800 million gallons of biodiesel production supports more than 31,000 jobs and generates about $1.7 billion in income that gets circulated to the economy.

Overall, EPA’s RFS2 program encourages greater use of renewable fuels, including advanced biofuels. For 2012, the program is implementing EISA’s requirement to blend more than 1.25 billion gallons of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2011.