The Biden administration on Wednesday called for an 8 percent increase in biofuel consumption through 2025, with lower-carbon “advanced” fuels as the beneficiaries. Corn ethanol would remain the dominant biofuel at 15 billion gallons a year in the updated Renewable Fuel Standard.
The EPA proposed a 10 percent increase, mostly reserved for cleaner-burning “advanced” biofuels, over three years in the federal mandate to mix biofuels into the U.S. gasoline supply, and said it would expand the Renewable Fuel Standard to include electricity generated from biogas and used in electric vehicles. The proposal, announced Thursday, would mean greater use of E15 and other blends of corn ethanol above the traditional 10 percent, said ethanol groups.
The EPA should increase the advanced biofuels share of the fuel market by 1 billion gallons a year to reflect the land rush into renewable diesel production, said the trade group Clean Fuels America Alliance on Monday. The recommendation would raise the federal mandate for second-generation biofuels to 7.63 billion gallons in 2024, a 36 percent increase from this year.
The upcoming EPA regulatory reset of the Renewable Fuel Standard should push the corn ethanol target above 15 billion gallons for the highest annual mandate ever and allow E15 to be sold year-round, said farm-state senators on Wednesday. In a letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan, the senators urged the agency to establish “robust and expanded” biofuel mandates.
The Renewable Fuel Standard is the most successful clean energy tool available to the government, which should make full use of it when setting the biofuel mandate for 2023 and future years, said farm and biofuel trade groups on Thursday. “What we’re really looking to take place with EPA is that they maximize the full potential of the RFS,” said Emily Skor, chief executive of Growth Energy.
The EPA has a free hand in writing the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2023, but the agency could be 18 months late and operating under a court order when it finally issues its proposal this fall. A biofuel trade group says nailing down the release date is a milestone in the campaign for expanded use of the alternative fuels.
As part of an effort to "re-set and strengthen" the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the EPA set the corn ethanol mandate at its highest level ever, 15.25 billion gallons, for this year. Ethanol is cheaper than gasoline at present, so biofuel backers said consumers would benefit at the fuel pump with more ethanol in the gasoline supply.
The Renewable Fuel Standard, which guarantees corn ethanol and other biofuels a share of the U.S. gasoline market, results in the release of at least as much carbon "and likely at least 24 percent higher" greenhouse gas emissions than the petroleum it displaced, say scientists who studied the program's first eight years.
There's money in manure for California dairy farmers with anaerobic digesters that capture methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from their cattle's manure. Each cow on a farm with a digester can generate $2,827 a year in air pollution and biofuel credits for methane that would otherwise go into the atmosphere, calculated Aaron Smith, a professor at UC-Davis.
During the ethanol boom of the early 2000s, Congress set an ambitious target of quadrupling the amount of renewable fuel mixed into gasoline for America's cars and pickup trucks. But while corn ethanol has lived up to its part of the plan, cleaner-burning "advanced" biofuels have been slow to come to market — two factors for the EPA to consider as it faces a regulatory reset of the Renewable Fuel Standard in the new year.
The Biden administration said it would set the ethanol mandate at its highest level ever in 2022 and reject 65 requests from small refineries for exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Both were welcome steps for biofuel backers, but they rebelled at companion proposals to retroactively set the RFS for 2020 and this year below the maximum possible — "a betrayal" of rural America, said a Nebraska senator.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the administration appeared "very close" to releasing a long-promised $700 million in pandemic aid to biofuel producers. The aid was announced in March as part of a remodeling of coronavirus relief programs by the incoming administration.
Amid reports the EPA might scale back the ethanol mandate, biofuel groups said on Tuesday there was no U.S. path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions or lower prices at the fuel pump without homegrown ethanol. In testimony before Congress and in a letter to the White House, the trade groups …
Bakers are experiencing a "soybean oil supply crisis" of soaring prices and limited availability due in part to the land rush of investors into renewable diesel fuel, said an Ohio baking executive on Wednesday. Soy oil is a key ingredient in baked goods as well as the feedstock for making renewable diesel.
In a victory for environmental groups, a federal appeals court told the EPA to consider the effect of the ethanol mandate on endangered animals and plants. The ruling applied to the 2019 RFS but held implications for the agency's development of the RFS for future years.
Farm and ethanol groups said they were confident the EPA will approve few exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard, but they urged the agency on Monday to state how it will run the program in the wake of last week's Supreme Court ruling on waivers.
The ethanol industry is optimistic the Biden administration will issue far fewer exemptions from the ethanol mandate than the Trump administration did despite a Supreme Court setback. Justices overturned, 6-3, an appellate court ruling that greatly restricted the eligibility of small refineries for "hardship" waivers from complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The federal appeals court that greatly restricted access to "hardship" exemptions from the U.S. ethanol mandate in 2020 granted an EPA request on Wednesday to cancel three exemptions issued on President Trump's final day in office.
The average gallon of gasoline sold during 2020 was 10.23 percent ethanol, the highest blend rate ever, said the Renewable Fuels Association. At the same time, 12.63 billion gallons of the biofuel were mixed into gasoline, the smallest amount in 11 years, declining in tandem with the reduction in travel and fuel sales that accompanied the pandemic, said the trade group.