US establishes Renewable Fuels Standard

Washington, D.C., USA (GLOBE-Net) – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, requiring major refiners, blenders, and importers to use a minimum percentage of renewable fuel.

For 2007, 4.02 percent of all the fuel sold or dispensed to U.S. motorists will have to come from renewable sources, roughly 4.7 billion gallons. This is an increase from a 2.78 percent standard previously set for 2006.

In the regulations (PDF), any fuel produced from biomass qualifies, as well as natural gas produced from biogas sources, such as landfills, sewage waste treatment plants, feedlots, or other places where decaying organic material is found.

For 2008 to 2012, the EPA will calculate an annually increasing standard based on projections of gasoline production and consumption, to meet a minimum target of 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2012.

For 2013 and beyond, a standard will also be established for cellulose-based ethanol.

Certain renewable fuel types will have higher ‘equivalency values’ than others, meaning a gallon of cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, or butanol will count as greater than a gallon of conventional ethanol when calculating percentages.

The EPA estimates that the program will cut petroleum use by up to 3.9 billion gallons and will cut annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 13.1 Megatonnes (Mt) by 2012.

A summary of the estimated GHG life cycle impacts of various alternative fuels compared to gasoline, including ethanol, biodiesel, cellulose ethanol and coal-to-liquids fuel, can be found here.

The program was established in response to Energy Policy Act of 2005 and a goal set by President George Bush of reducing gasoline use by 20-percent compared to projected levels by growing renewable and alternative fuel use to 35 billion gallons by the year 2017.

Fuel producers can also comply with the standard through purchase of renewable identification numbers (RINs) in credit trading system. This allows for small producers of alternative fuels to benefit from the generation of credits.

For more information:

Canada’s legislation requires that all gasoline sold in Canada have at least five percent annual renewable fuels content as of 2010. The government estimates this will require around 2.1 billion litres of renewable fuel, essentially ethanol, per year.

For comparison, total ethanol production and consumption in Canada in 2004 amounted to approximately 250 million litres, or just 0.7% of the country’s total gasoline consumption.

A two percent renewable fuels content will also be in place for diesel fuel and heating oil used in Canada by no later than 2012. This regulation will apply to all diesel fuel, including off-road transportation and heating. This will create demand for around 600 million litres of biodiesel or other biofuels by 2012, a nearly sixfold increase from current domestic production levels.

For More Information: Environmental Protection Agency - US

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