The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized the 2013 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program established by Congress. The final 2013 overall volumes and standards require 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply (a 9.74% blend). This standard specifically requires:
- Biomass-based diesel (1.28 billion gallons; 1.13%)
- Advanced biofuels (2.75 billion gallons; 1.62%)
- Cellulosic biofuels (6.00 million gallons; 0.004%)
These standards reflect EPA's updated production projections, "which are informed by extensive engagement with industry and a thorough assessment of the biofuels market," states the agency. "During this rulemaking, EPA received comments from a number of stakeholders concerning the 'E10 blend wall.' Projected to occur in 2014, the 'E10 blend wall' refers to the difficulty in incorporating ethanol into the fuel supply at volumes exceeding those achieved by the sale of nearly all gasoline as E10. Most gasoline sold in the U.S. today is E10. In the rule issued today, EPA is announcing that it will propose to use flexibilities in the RFS statute to reduce both the advanced biofuel and total renewable volumes in the forthcoming 2014 RFS volume requirement proposal."
EPA is also providing greater lead time and flexibility in complying with the 2013 volume requirements by extending the deadline to comply with the 2013 standards by four months, to June 30, 2014.
A January 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals required the agency to reevaluate projections for cellulosic biofuel to reflect market conditions; the final 2013 standard for cellulosic biofuel announced today was developed in a manner consistent with the approach outlined in that ruling.
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) established the RFS program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said the announcement demonstrates the flexibility of the RFS. "First and foremost, by decreasing the cellulosic requirement by 99.4% to a very realistic, achievable number, the EPA has totally obliterated Big Oil's myth that the RFS is inflexible and unworkable. As in years past, the finalized annual requirements are a testament to the inherent flexibility that is the backbone of the RFS," he said.