EPA announces 2009 RFS changes

By Ron Kotrba | November 03, 2008
Web exclusive posted Nov. 24, 2008 at 11:57 a.m. CST

The U.S. EPA has announced that the 2009 renewable fuels standard (RFS) blending requirement will be set at 10.21 percent to ensure that at least 11.1 billion gallons of renewable fuels are blended into transportation gasoline. The percentage is calculated using projected total gasoline consumption and multiple variables, such as subtracting projected production from exempt small refiners, but excluding Alaska's projected gas consumption. Hawaii's projected gas consumption is included because the state has chosen to opt into the RFS program; Alaska has not.

The announcement comes in the interim period between RFS1, enacted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the proposed rulemaking for RFS2, which was signed into law in December 2007 as part of the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. Under RFS1, the 2009 volume of renewable fuels required would have been only 6.1 billion gallons instead of 11.1 billion gallons.

EISA establishes the annual overall renewable fuels volume targets, reaching a level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve those volumes, the EPA calculates an annual percentage-based standard by Nov. 30 for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner, importer and non-oxygenate blender of gasoline determines the minimum volume of renewable fuels that it must ensure is used in motor vehicle fuel. The 2008 standard was 7.76 percent, equating to approximately 9 billion gallons.

"The RFS program in 2009 will continue to be applicable to producers and importers of gasoline only," the EPA stated in a 13-page document released Nov. 17. This means the 500 million gallons of biomass-based diesel required by RFS2 does not have to be blended into U.S. fuel supplies in 2009. "The RFS1 regulatory structure does not provide a mechanism for implementing the EISA requirement for use of [500 million] gallons of biomass-based diesel," the document continued. "In our forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the RFS2 program, we currently intend to propose options to address this issue."

The primary option identified by the agency is to increase the 2010 biomass-based diesel requirement by what was required for 2009 - 500 million gallons - and award renewable identification numbers (RINs) to any biodiesel or renewable diesel producers in 2009 to meet the 2010 requirement. This would allow the EPA time to develop its mechanism for implementing the biomass-based diesel portion of RFS2.