Published: Sat, December 03, 2016
Research | By Jennifer Evans

EPA finalizes increase in renewable fuel volumes

EPA finalizes increase in renewable fuel volumes

America supports ethanol via billions in subsidies and federal programs like Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires gasoline sold in the contain a certain amount of ethanol. Of the remainder, 4.28 billion gallons would be advanced biofuels, 2 billion gallons would be biomass-based diesel and 311 million gallons would be cellulosic.

Non-advanced or "conventional" renewable fuel increases in 2017, meeting the 15 billion-gallon congressionally mandated target for conventional fuels.

"Renewable fuel volumes continue to increase across the board compared to 2016 levels", said Janet McCabe, the agency's acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. As Heitkamp requested, the EPA increased its targets when it released its final RVOs in late November, though the RVOs were still not strong enough to comply with the law or provide solid support for biofuels production.

She said that by implementing the program, the EPA is expanding the nation's renewable fuels sector while reducing the reliance on imported oil.

"Despite Trump's generally anti-renewables rhetoric, the USA ethanol and biodiesel industry will play a role in Trump's goal for United States energy independence", Yu said.

That is largely thanks to sluggish development of the advanced fuels - including cellulosic ethanol which is produced from plant waste - that were meant to represent an increasing share of annual requirements, the GAO said.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, was among a group of legislators to sign a letter to the EPA that asked for an increase in biofuels usage. "Reforming the RFS remains a priority, and we will continue working to see a legislative fix move forward in Congress".

"When EPA issued its proposed rule, ASA clearly stated that the 2.1 billion gallon mark did not adequately capture the capacity of the biodiesel industry", he said. "While more work needs to be done to increase levels for biodiesel, this is the first time that the EPA has reached the statutory level for traditional corn ethanol".

Kimberley says the advanced biofuel category is a bright spot for biodiesel in the RFS. Americans are expected to consume a record 144 billion gallons of gasoline this year, according to an October forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

On the other side of the argument, the oil industry voiced its opposition to the ruling, telling consumers that putting more ethanol in fuel will damage vehicle engines.

"We are disappointed that EPA has taken a step backwards with this final rule", said API downstream group director Frank Macchiarola. The RFS mandate is a bad deal for the American consumer.

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