In the United States (US), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a multi-part proposal that will build on the strong foundation for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program started in the Biden-Harris Administration and seeks to advance the priorities of energy security, less pollution, and consumer protection.
The RFS “Set” proposal requests public input on required volumes of biofuel for the next one to three years and on a series of important modifications to strengthen and expand the program.
The Renewable Fuel Standard program is critical to helping incorporate more homegrown biofuels into the market, said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.
The agency is seeking public input on the proposal to help shape the RFS program in the years ahead.
This proposal supports low-carbon renewable fuels and seeks public input on ways to strengthen the program. With this proposal, EPA seeks to provide consumers with more options while diversifying our nation’s energy mix. EPA is also focused on strengthening the economics of our critical energy infrastructure, needed to maintain and boost our energy security. We’re eager to continue the dialogue on how biofuels can bolster US energy security, protect consumers from high fuel costs, strengthen the rural economy, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions Michael S. Regan said.
This proposal includes steady growth of biofuels for use in the nation’s fuel supply for 2023, 2024, and 2025.
Because the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) does not include volumes after 2022, this is the first time that EPA is setting these proposed biofuel volume targets without using those outlined in the statute.
When setting biofuel volumes for years after 2022, EPA must consider a variety of factors specified in the statute, including costs, air quality, climate change, implementation of the program to date, energy security, infrastructure issues, commodity prices, and water quality and supply.
The agency is seeking comment on the proposed volumes and how to appropriately balance these factors so that the program works for renewable fuel growers and producers, refiners and the union workers who operate these facilities, and fuel consumers.
A “fresh look” and new components
Because this rule is an opportunity to take a fresh look at many aspects of the program, EPA is also seeking comments on how this rule can intersect with the continued viability of domestic oil refining assets, including merchant refineries, how best to support novel fuels like sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and clean hydrogen, and how to account for the new and updated incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
EPA is also proposing new regulations governing the generation of qualifying renewable electricity made from renewable biomass that is used for transportation fuel in electric vehicles (EVs).
The agency is seeking comment on this new component of the RFS program that would tie electricity generation from renewable biomass into the program for the first time.
According to EPA, this proposed rule would increase national energy security by reducing oil imports by roughly 160 000 to 180 000 barrels of oil per year over the time frame of the proposed rule, 2023 to 2025.
The anticipated value of the energy security benefits over the time frame of the proposed rule ranges from US$200-223 million per year.
An accompanying analysis shows the proposal would have minimal impacts on the price of refined products.
An accompanying analysis shows the proposal would have minimal impacts on the price of refined products. EPA will be soliciting public comment on the proposed rule and holding a public hearing in January 2023.