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EPA Finalizes Increase in Renewable Fuel Volumes

The EPA finalized increases in renewable fuel volume requirements across all categories of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard program. In a required annual rulemaking, the action finalizes the volume requirements and associated percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for 2017, and for biomass-based diesel for 2018.

“Renewable fuel volumes continue to increase across the board compared to 2016 levels,” Janet McCabe, the agency’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, said in a statement issued Nov. 23. “These final standards will boost production, providing for ambitious yet achievable growth of biofuels in the transportation sector. By implementing the program enacted by Congress, we are expanding the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing our reliance on imported oil.”

Some key elements of the action:

  • Non-advanced or “conventional” renewable fuel increases in 2017, meeting the 15 billion-gallon congressional target for conventional fuels.
  • The standard for biomass-based biodiesel – which must achieve at least 50 percent lifecycle greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to petroleum-based diesel – grows by 100 million gallons. The required volume of biomass-based diesel for 2017 is twice that of the minimum congressional target.
  • Cellulosic biofuel – which must achieve at least 60 percent lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions – grows 35 percent over the 2016 standard.
  • The advanced biofuel standard – comprised of biomass-based diesel, cellulosic biofuel, and other biofuel that achieves at least 50 percent lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions – increases 19 percent over the 2016 standard.
  • Total renewable fuel volumes grow 1.2 billion gallons from 2016 to 2017, a 6 percent increase.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set annual RFS volume requirements for four categories of biofuels. By displacing fossil fuels, biofuels are part of the nation’s overall strategy to enhance energy security and address climate change. EPA is using the tools provided by Congress to adjust the standards below the statutory targets, but the steadily increasing volumes in the final rule continue to support Congress’s intent to grow the volumes. EPA implements the RFS program in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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