Renewable Fuels Standard Finalized

On February 3, 2010, as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule revising the National Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS) to meet Congress’ long-term renewable fuels mandate of 36 billion gallons by 2022 (from 11.1 billion gallons in 2009).

Most significantly, the RFS program sets emission thresholds to the definition of various categories of renewable fuels, establishes volumetric requirements for different subcategories of biofuels, and creates a new definition of “renewable biomass” that determines feedstock eligibility. EPA also scaled back its target of 100 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels for 2010 by 93 percent to the “reasonable and achievable” target of 5 million gallons. EPA claims that the larger overall requirement for advanced biofuels can still be met in 2010, but that the reduction in the target recognized the number of cellulosic biofuels projects that have been put on hold, delayed or scaled back.

EPA estimates that the increased use of renewable fuels will decrease gasoline costs by 2.4 cents per gallon and decrease diesel costs by 12.1 cents per gallon. The greenhouse gas reductions are also estimated to be the equivalent of taking 27 million vehicles off the road. The rule is, however, expected to increase the cost of food $10 per person in 2022.

The same day EPA finalized its rule, President Obama announced a Presidential Memorandum creating an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage to develop a federal strategy to speed the development and deployment of clean coal technologies. The Memorandum calls for five to ten commercial demonstration projects to be up and running by 2016.

For more information, please click here or contact Steve O’Day.

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