EPA Puts Numbers to Renewable Fuels Strategy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed its strategy for increasing the supply of renewable fuels, poised to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, as mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA).

Increasing renewable fuels will reduce dependence of foreign oil by more than 297 million barrels a year and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions by an average of 160 million tons a year when fully phased in by 2022. EISA will establish four categories of renewable fuels—cellulosic, biomass-based, advanced, and total renewable.

In 2022, the proposal would require:

  • 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels;
  • 15 billion gallons annually of conventional biofuels;
  • 4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels; and
  • 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel.

To achieve the volume requirements, each year EPA calculates a percentage-based standard that refiners, importers, and blenders of gasoline and diesel must ensure is used in transportation fuel. For the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve GHG emission reductions compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace. Refiners must meet the requirements to receive credit toward meeting the new standards.

The thresholds for new categories would be 20 percent less GHG emissions for renewable fuels produced from new facilities, 50 percent less for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels, and 60 percent less for cellulosic biofuels.

EPA also will conduct peer-reviews on the lifecycle analysis of the four renewable fuel categories. Lifecycle refers to the GHG emissions over the life of the fuels.

The 60-day comment period on this proposal will begin upon publication in the Federal Register. During the comment period EPA will hold a public workshop on lifecycle analysis to assure full understanding of the analyses conducted, the issues addressed, and the options that are discussed.

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