Obama Administration officials announced Wednesday a series of steps to promote growth of the renewable energy sector, including finalizing a rule to cover an expanded renewable fuels standard known as RFS-2 and proposing a rule governing the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).
The RFS-2, outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, requires biofuels production to grow from last year’s 11.1 billion gallons to 36 billion gallons in 2022. Of that, 21 billion gallons must come from advanced biofuels and some renewable fuels will be required to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions as compared to gasoline and diesel.
The most notable change made in the final rule from previous versions was Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reconsideration of its calculation of the indirect land use effects of biofuels. Under the final rule, the lifecycle analysis of corn ethanol is considered compliant with the law’s requirement that conventional biofuels reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent from that emitted by gasoline. In a press call, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the change was due to incorporating the effects of co-products into the model used and expanding that model to look at 160 countries versus 40 reviewed in previous versions.
The expanded RFS is intended to provide stability for commercial investors entering a growing industry. Overall, Administration officials estimate increasing renewable fuels will reduce oil use by more than 328 million barrels a year and reduce GHG emissions more than 138 million metric tons a year when fully phased in by 2022.
The Administration also announced on Tuesday a proposed rule for BCAP, which was written into the 2008 Farm Bill to incentivize growers to produce biomass for approved facilities. Much more information about the program and the proposed rule, which is open for public comment for 60 days, is available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=ener&topic=bcap.
The Administration also announced the release of the Biofuels Interagency Working Group’s first report, which outlines a government strategy for meeting biofuels targets and establishing a commercially-viable biofuels markets. That report is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/growing_americas_fuels.PDF.
The RFS-2 final rule is at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels/index.htm. An in-depth look at the RFS-2 final rule from the Renewable Fuels Association is available at http://www.ethanolrfa.org/objects/documents/2769/rfs2_rule_summary_brief.pdf.