Biodiesel Fills Gap

February 26, 2013 08:00 PM
Biodiesel Fills Gap

Push for alternative fuels continues

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a challenge by the American Petroleum Institute (API) earlier this year to reduce the Advanced Biofuels volume requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

API argued against the cellulosic requirement, citing that it is not yet commercially produced at sufficient levels to meet the RFS. The court issued a mixed ruling on the cellulosic biofuels portion of the RFS. The decision, favorable to the biodiesel industry, maintains the "undifferentiated" advanced biofuels pool that is expected to be partially filled by U.S. biodiesel in 2013.

The National Biodiesel Board intervened in defense of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the RFS, particularly on the advanced biofuels requirement. The case involved the 2012 standards, and the court upheld EPA’s authority to maintain the "Advanced Biofuels" program, even if the "Cellulosic Biofuels" program is reduced.

With regard to the cellulosic biofuels requirements, the court determined that EPA has the authority to set it at a reasonable volume so long as the volume requirement is adequately grounded. As a result, the court vacated the specific 2012 volume, ruling that the requirement was not grounded regarding expected production.

EPA has not issued the 2013 volume requirements for cellulosic or the overall Advanced Biofuels program. EPA has set the biomass-based diesel volume requirements for 2013 at 1.28 billion gallons. The statute calls for a total of 2.75 billion gallons of advanced biofuels in 2013. After the 1.28 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, 1.47 billion gallons of advanced biofuel volumes would remain to be filled. If not waived by EPA, the additional advanced biofuels gallons would likely be filled by biomass-based diesel and/or sugarcane ethanol imported from Brazil.

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