BY KELLY MADSEN | IOWA ENERGY CENTER
On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed scaling back renewable fuel targets for the first time since the national biofuel mandate in 2007.
The proposal suggests lowering next year’s blend target to 15.21 billion gallons of renewable fuels into petroleum-based gasoline and diesel, down from this year’s 16.55 billion gallon renewable fuels target. The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which created the renewable fuel standard (RFS), currently calls for 18.15 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended next year.
Of the newly proposed 15.21 billion gallons, 13.01 billion gallons is to come from conventional ethanol and 2.2 billion gallons from advanced biofuels that don’t rely on starch inputs. For the 2.2 billion gallon advanced biofuel target, EPA is considering 1.28 billion gallons of biodiesel and 17 million gallons from cellulosic biofuel. EPA is seeking comments regarding the ranges of targets, as the agency’s proposed amounts are somewhat flexible.
Under the RFS the EPA is given the ability to reduce the cellulosic biofuel target based on actual market supply, which it has lowered every year since the RFS was put in place because of the slower-than-expected development of the cellulosic industry.
The agency cites “inadequate domestic supply” – one of two criteria set by the 2007 act – as justification for lowering the biofuels target and officially acknowledging the existence of the “blend wall”.
The recent proposal has elicited immediate criticism from both opponents and supporters of the RFS.
EPA proposes rollback of renewable fuel targets, ClimateWire