EPA announces final 2012 renewable fuel requirements

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced final 2012 percentages for four fuel categories under its renewable fuel standards (RFS), which were established under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association responded that the requirements simply make a bad program worse.

The program is implementing EISA’s requirement to blend more than 1.25 billion gal of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2011, it said on Dec. 27. Of the 15.2 billion gal, or 9.23% total renewable fuels portion of US refined products, biomass-based diesel fuel is to grow to 1 billion gal, or 0.91%; advanced biomass is to rise to 2 billion gal, or 1.21%, and cellulosic biofuels increases is to increase to 8.65 million gal, or 0.006%.

EPA said that it proposed a 1.28 billion gal requirement last spring for biomass-based diesel in 2013. It said that EISA specifies a 1 billion gal requirement for that category in 2013 and beyond, but enables EPA to increase the volume requirement after considering a variety of environmental, market, and energy-related factors. The agency said that it continues to evaluate comments from stakeholders on the proposed 2013 biomass-based diesel fuel volume and will take final action next year.

NPRA Pres. Charles T. Drevna said the latest rule is another reminder that the federal renewable fuel standard needs to be modified. “Once again, refiners are being ordered to use a substance that is not being produced in commercial quantities—cellulosic ethanol—and being required to pay millions of dollars for failing to use this nonexistent substance. This makes no sense,” he said.

Drevna said NPRA has been pointing out problems with the RFS mandate for years, and that a recent National Academies of Sciences report reached similar conclusions. “The standard is not achievable, cost-effective, or environmentally realistic,” he said, adding, “The American people shouldn’t be required to spend billions of their hard-earned tax dollars to prop up renewable fuels that are plagued with problems, unpopular with consumers, and unable to survive on their own in the free market.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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