Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: Changes to Renewable Fuel Standard Program; Final Rule
Under the Clean Air Act Section 211(o), as amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the Environmental Protection Agency is required to promulgate regulations implementing changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard program.
The revised statutory requirements specify the volumes of cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that must be used in transportation fuel. This action finalizes the regulations that implement the requirements of EISA, including the cellulosic, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and renewable fuel standards that will apply to all gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2010.
The final regulations make a number of changes to the current Renewable Fuel Standard program while retaining many elements of the compliance and trading system already in place. This final rule also implements the revised statutory definitions and criteria, most notably the new g reenhouse gas emission thresholds for renewable fuels and new limits on renewable biomass feedstocks. This rulemaking marks the first time that greenhouse gas emission performance is being applied in a regulatory context for a nationwide program.
As mandated by the statute, our greenhouse gas emission assessments consider the full lifecycle emission impacts of fuel production from both direct and indirect emissions, including significant emissions from land use changes. In carrying out our lifecycle analysis we have taken steps to ensure that the lifecycle estimates are based on the latest and most up-to-date science. The lifecycle greenhouse gas assessments reflected in this rulemaking represent significant improvements in analysis based on information and data received since the proposal.
However, we also recognize that lifecycle GHG assessment of biofuels is an evolving discipline and will continue to revisit our lifecycle analyses in the future as new information becomes available. EPA plans to ask the National Academy of Sciences for assistance as we move forward.
Based on current analyses we have determined that ethanol from corn starch will be able to comply with the required greenhouse gas (GHG) threshold for renewable fuel. Similarly, biodiesel can be produced to comply with the 50% threshold for biomass based diesel, sugarcane with the 50% threshold for advanced biofuel and multiple cellulosic-based fuels with their 60% threshold. Additional fuel pathways have also been determined to comply with their thresholds. The assessment for this rulemaking also indicates the increased use of renewable fuels will have important environmental, energy and economic impacts for our Nation.
DATES: This final rule is effective on July 1, 2010, and the percentage standards apply to all gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2010. The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of July 1, 2010. READ MORE