EPA Scales Back 2013 Cellulosic Biofuel Volume

05:47AM Apr 23, 2014
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Final 2013 volume at 810,185 ethanol-equivalent gallons

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EPA late Tuesday announced it is revising downward the 2013 renewable fuel standard (RFS) for cellulosic ethanol. The final 2013 cellulosic biofuel volume will be 810,185 ethanol-equivalent gallons, according to an EPA fact sheet.

Facts and figures. The EPA had initially predicted that 14 million ethanol-equivalent gallons would be produced last year, only to reduce it to 6 million gallons last summer. The 2007 law creating the mandate envisioned 1 billion gallons of ethanol from cellulosic sources in 2013. The EPA is proposing 17 million gallons as a target for 2014. The law required 1.75 billion gallons.


The agency said it is setting required production at the “actual cellulosic biofuel production in 2013. Specifically, we are calculating the volume of cellulosic biofuel to be used in 2013 by reference to the actual number of cellulosic biofuel renewable” credits known as RINs.

EPA said it reconsidered its rules “due to the reduced estimate of anticipated cellulosic biofuel production in 2013 that was announced shortly after EPA signed its final rule by one of two companies expected to produce cellulosic biofuel in 2013.” There was no production in 2010 or 2011, the US Court of Appeals found in January 2013. And just 20,000 gallons were produced in 2012.

The revision follows administrative petitions for reconsideration filed last fall by the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. EPA in January told both groups it would conduct a rulemaking in response.

American Petroleum Institute official Bob Greco said the decision showed it is time to reverse the mandates. “Nearly five months after the end of the year, EPA has finally agreed to reconsider its 2013 mandate for biofuels that do not exist. But setting unreasonable mandates isn’t just bad public policy, it makes producing the fuels American consumers demand harder and more costly. It’s time for Congress to stop the insanity and repeal the unworkable Renewable Fuel Standard,” Greco said. “EPA should base its cellulosic mandates on actual production rather than projections that — year after year — have fallen far short of reality. For four years running, biofuel producers have promised high cellulosic ethanol production that hasn’t happened. EPA must also reconsider its unrealistic proposal to mandate 17 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2014.”

EPA went ahead and issued the revision — which it called “noncontroversial” — through a direct final rule, which it said would “reduce regulatory uncertainty and avoid unnecessary cost or burden.” In the event it receives adverse criticism, the agency also released a proposed rule to make additional revisions.

Comments: Why did it take so long for EPA to get realistic on this matter? Because the agency's real name is Everlasting Procrastination Agency. Just think about it: a final rule for 2013 in April of 2014. You can really plan on that, right? EPA needs a kick in the pants and needs far better management. It's one thing to be an environmentalist. It's another to follow the law's timeframe. We are still waiting on final RFS volume requirements for 2014, and those are not expected until June, and now we have EPA officials giving different June dates for when that will occur.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.