Environmental Protection Agency and Sugarcane Biofuels

The EPA has primary responsibility for administrating the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). Administrative responsibilities include setting annual targets for blending renewable fuels into petroleum motor fuels and monitoring U.S. Refiners’ and Blenders’ annual RFS2 compliance.  Renewable fuels include conventional (corn) ethanol and advanced biofuels.  Advanced biofuels include cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel and ‘other’ advanced biofuels that meet the RFS2 50% minimum reduction in full lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to the petroleum motor fuels displaced.  Cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel are normally capable of meeting this ‘other’ advance biofuel RFS2 requirement if excess production above their individual annual targets is available.  However, U.S. domestic biodiesel, and in particular cellulosic ethanol, have struggled in meeting their individual RFS2 annual targets.  As a result, the EPA has been forced to reduce their original cellulosic ethanol targets each year since 2010 due to the inability of this developing Industry to meet initial EPA annual production-blending targets.

The EPA certified Brazil sugarcane ethanol as an ‘advanced biofuel’ in 2010.  This allowed Brazilian ethanol imports to help meet EPA RFS2 ‘other’ advanced biofuel targets ever since.  The question becomes, since Congress established the RFS2 requirements under the ‘Energy Independence and Security Act’ (EISA) in 2007, are these EPA administrative actions consistent with the requirements and intent of the EISA regulation?  And, since the EPA has routinely developed annual RFS2 ‘other’ advanced biofuels targets that apparently require sugarcane ethanol imports, what are the impacts on U.S. motor fuel markets and actual associated carbon emissions?

via Environmental Protection Agency and Sugarcane Biofuels | The Energy Collective.

Categories: Energy, Transportation