EPA Raises 2017 Biofuels Requirements

The federal government on Wednesday announced finalized targets for biofuel use for next year, requiring that energy companies blend 19.28 billion gallons of renewables into the nation’s fuel supply.

The Environmental Protection Agency in a statement set the target for conventional biofuel, or ethanol, at 15 billion gallons and the advanced biofuel target for cellulosic ethanol at 4.28 billion gallons for 2017.

The agency set the mandate for biomass-based diesel at 2.1 billion gallons for 2018.

That compares with the total 18.8 billion gallons the EPA proposed in May and would be up 6 percent from this year’s 18.11 billion gallons.

The EPA’s move to require higher levels of ethanol and biodiesel was applauded by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

“This announcement is good news for Iowa, and in particular corn ethanol producers,” Grassley said in a news release, “While more work needs to be done to increase levels for biodiesel, this is the first time that the EPA has reached the statutory level for traditional corn ethanol.”

Iowa’s other Republican senator, Joni Ernst, who had called for the EPA to follow Congressional intent when the proposed rule initially was released in the spring, also hailed the agency’s latest action.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is critical in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and provides consumers with choices at the pump,” Ernst said.

But U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who has served as co-chairman of the House Biofuels Caucus, said more work needs to be done.

“I will continue to push the EPA to increase the level of biodiesel and advanced biofuels to what was mandated,” Loebsack said in a news release. “I also will continue to fight to create greater access to biofuels at local gas stations across the country.”

The EPA is required to set targets by the RFS, with annual mandates for how much renewable fuel needs to be blended with gasoline and diesel. The program, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005, was designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy independence and boost rural economies.

The increase to 15 billion gallons for the conventional biofuels target marked a victory for the U.S. ethanol industry, after years of battling regulators to increase the mandates to levels laid out by Congress in 2007.

“The RFS ethanol volumes announced by the EPA mean higher income for farmers and lower prices for consumers,” said Monty Shaw, executive director of the Johnson-based Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “They mean more jobs in rural Iowa and less dependence on foreign oil.”

Source: Cedar Rapids Gazette

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