The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed renewable fuel quotas for 2014 that it said reflect the year’s actual biofuel use, and for 2015 and 2016 and, for biodiesel, quotas through 2017 that increase steadily over time.
It proposed using authority granted by Congress to reduce quotas below federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) levels established under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). The proposal’s steadily increasing volumes indicate that biofuels remain an important part of the nation’s strategy to improve energy security and address climate change, it said.
Under the notice of proposed rulemaking, which Administrator Gina McCarthy signed on May 29, EPA proposed adjustments to advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel targets for all 3 years.
The proposed quotas for 2015 and 2016 “are expected to spur further progress in overcoming current constraints in renewable fuel distribution infrastructure, which in turn is expected to lead to substantial growth over time in the production and use of higher-level ethanol blends and other qualifying renewable fuels,” it said.
Total renewable fuel quotas would be 15.93 billion gal in 2014, 16.3 billion gal in 2015, and 17.4 billion gal in 2016. Quotas for advanced biofuel would be 2.68 billion gal in 2014, 2.9 billion gal in 2015, and 3.4 billion gal in 2016. For cellulosic biofuel, they would be 33 million gal in 2014, 106 million gal in 2015, and 206 million gal in 2016.
For biodiesel, EPA said it was appropriate to raise the quota from 1.63 billion gal in 2014 to 1.7 billion gal in 2015, 1.8 billion gal in 2016, and 1.9 billion gal in 2017 as an incentive for more of it to be produced.
EPA said it would hold a public hearing on the proposal in Kansas City, Mo., on June 25; accept comments on it through July 27; and issue final quotas by Nov. 30. It issued the proposed quotas 3 days before a June 1 deadline for proposing 2015 quotas under a proposed consent decree it reached with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and American Petroleum Institute (OGJ Online, Apr. 10, 2015).
Top officials at both AFPM and API were critical after EPA proposed the quotas. “EPA’s proposal is overly ambitious, misses the mark, and clearly demonstrates why Congress must act to repeal the [RFS],” AFPM Pres. Chet Thompson said.
“In acknowledging that the proposal seeks to force more ethanol use than the marketplace can handle, EPA is playing Russian Roulette with fuel supply and consumers,” Thompson said. “Corn ethanol’s gain would come at the expense of consumers and the environment.”
API Pres. Jack N. Gerard, meanwhile, said, “Consumers’ interest should come ahead of ethanol interests. EPA assumes growing demand for high-ethanol fuel blends that are not compatible with most cars on the road today, potentially putting American consumers, their vehicles and our economy at risk.”
EPA’s announcement made it clear that the RFS needs to repealed or reformed, Gerard said. “Members on both sides of the aisle agree this program is a failure, and we are stepping up our call for Congress to act,” he said.
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