The New Federal Renewable Fuel Standard Program Rules and Potential Obstacles for Implementation - NR&E | Spring 2011
While the new federal Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS2) was intended by Congress to result in a significant increase in renewable biofuel usage (ethanol and biodiesel), case-by-case greenhouse gas (GHG) lifecycle assessments will be needed for new feedstocks and fuel “pathways.” EPA’s new rules implementing the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act address only existing facilities and traditional feedstocks as “renewable” fuels for purposes of this program. Newer, more innovative feedstocks and fuel pathways must undergo a petitioning process with full GHG lifecycle analyses before being considered “renewable” and eligible to be counted toward the ambitious 36 billion gallon per year (BGY) goal to be reached by the year 2022 (a significant increase above the current 13 BGY of ethanol currently being produced). This article discusses what assessments have been performed and the type of information needed for future assessments which will be critical for Congress’ goals to be achieved. This article also discusses EPA’s feedstock production requirements that help insure renewable sources and sustainable practices are used for producing the renewable biofuels.