Comment at Federal Register
The American Biogas Council (ABC), based in Washington, DC, issued an Alert to submit comments on the U.S. EPA’s 2014 renewable fuel targets. “EPA lowered its renewable fuel targets for 2014, which means that refiners of fossil fuels need to buy less renewable fuel, leading to lower prices for biogas producers who convert biogas to vehicle fuel,” explains Patrick Serfass, ABC’s Executive Director. “That sends the wrong message to markets and investors and stands to make the road to biogas project investment even more difficult. We need to let EPA know the targets have to be sustained or raised, not lowered!” EPA will accept comments on the proposed lowered targets for advanced biofuels through January 28, 2014. ABC will be commenting in favor of increasing those targets and encourages all biogas stakeholders to do the same.
Each year, the EPA sets the amount of renewable fuel that must be generated as a part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ABC Alert explains that the EPA proposal would require refiners to blend 15.21 billion gallons of renewable fuels into petroleum-based gasoline and diesel next year. Of that, 13.01 billion gallons is to come from conventional ethanol and 2.2 billion gallons from “advanced biofuels” that do not use cornstarch as an input. The 2007 law that created the current RFS with the higher targets calls for 18.15 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into petroleum-based gasoline and diesel in 2014; of that, 14.4 billion gallons was set to be conventional ethanol and 3.75 billion gallons is advanced biofuels.
“While the proposed lowering of the fuel targets by 1 to 3 billion gallons in the different categories is significant, what’s even more significant is the fact that EPA has even proposed to lower them,” notes Serfass. “Just the suggestion that the targets might be lowered has already sent a very negative market signal indicating slower growth of the renewable fuels market. Most of the industry has been investing and gearing up for more renewable fuel production, thinking lowered targets won’t even be on the table. So it’s both the volume and the action itself that’s hurting the entire renewable fuels industry, which includes biogas. But it’s not too late to fight back.”
Under existing EPA rules, biogas from landfills and wastewater treatment and manure digesters qualifies as “advanced biofuels.” In a likely administrative oversight, anaerobic digesters processing plant-based materials such as crop residue, food waste and municipal solid waste currently do not qualify as advanced biofuel under the RFS, but a different, still pending EPA Notice of Proposed Rule Making aims to include them.