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EPA's final 2018 RVO represents ‘marked improvement’ over proposal – RFA

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2018.
"The biofuels industry will rise or fall together, and thus we are disappointed the final rule is not more aggressive with regard to other advanced biofuels such as biodiesel, which has become a major market for the corn distillers oil co-product made by dry mill ethanol plants", said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The EPA has released its final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2018. The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.29 billion gallons (BG), of which 4.29 BG is advanced biofuel, including 288 million gallons (MG) of cellulosic biofuel. That leaves a 15 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol, consistent with the levels envisioned by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.

We are pleased that the final rule maintains the statutory 15-billion-gallon requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol. Under the RFS, ethanol has helped to lower prices at the pump, reduce greenhouse emissions, displace harmful toxic gasoline compounds, reduce crude oil imports, and boost local economies. Maintaining the 15-billion-gallon conventional biofuel requirement will accelerate investments in the infrastructure necessary to distribute mid-level ethanol blends like E15 and E30, and flex fuels like E85, said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The 2018 total RFS volume finalized today represents a minor increase (10 million gallons) over the 2017 standards and a modest increase (50 million gallons) over the 2018 volumes originally proposed by EPA in July.

It is also encouraging that EPA appears to have absorbed the tens of thousands of comments from American ethanol producers, farmers, consumers, veterans, and others who suggested the proposed rule was unnecessarily pessimistic with regard to the total renewable fuel volumes, and cellulosic ethanol volumes specifically. The final rule is a marked improvement, increasing both total renewable fuel and cellulosic biofuel volumes by 50 million gallons over the proposed levels. Still, we would encourage EPA to closely monitor the commercialization of new cellulosic technologies, particularly regarding corn kernel fibre conversion, because we believe greater cellulosic production is likely. The RFS needs to remain a forward-looking program, driving investment in these new technologies, Dinneen said.

The US EPA has approved a fifth corn ethanol plant with Edeniq’s cellulosic ethanol technology (photo courtesy Edeniq).

The biofuels industry will rise or fall together, and thus we are disappointed the final rule is not more aggressive with regard to other advanced biofuels such as biodiesel, which has become a major market for the corn distillers oil co-product made by dry mill ethanol plants. Again, the RFS should be implemented in a manner that drives investment and innovation to maximize the energy security, environmental, and consumer benefits that are derived from U.S.-produced biofuels, concluded Dinneen.

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