Alternative Fuel Petitions

Section 301(2) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 1992) defines certain fuels as alternative fuels and empowers the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to add fuels to this list through a petition process. DOE may authorize additional alternative fuels only by rulemaking and only if the petitioner meets the following three criteria:

  • First, the fuel is substantially nonpetroleum, then
  • The fuel yields substantial energy security benefits, and
  • The fuel offers substantial environmental benefits.

Although anyone may petition DOE to undertake such a rulemaking, DOE retains sole discretion to determine whether to do so. The petitioner bears the burden of demonstrating that a fuel satisfies all statutory criteria.

DOE will only initiate an alternative fuel petition rulemaking for a fuel that it determines has substantial potential for market penetration within both EPAct 1992-covered fleets and the broader vehicle population.

Designation as an alternative fuel under Section 301(2) of EPAct 1992, as amended, only has relevance to the extent that:

  • The fuel can be used in vehicles that meet the definition of "alternative fuel vehicles," which can be "newly acquired" by covered fleets (not converted from existing vehicles)
  • The fuel can be used by covered fleets participating in DOE's Alternative Compliance option for state and alternative fuel provider fleets.

Furthermore, all fleet vehicles operating under the EPAct 1992 regulated fleet programs must comply with the Clean Air Act and related regulatory provisions.

Petitioning DOE

Petitioning DOE under Section 301(2) of EPAct 1992, as amended, is an extensive and resource-intensive regulatory process that involves full public disclosure. All documents and media submitted regarding the proposed fuel will be published in a docket, available to the public.

Petitions must contain a sufficient quantity of high-quality data that address each of the statutory criteria. DOE's review process includes evaluation of the following, all in the context of the statutory criteria:

  • Lifecycle analysis (energy efficiency and environmental benefits)
  • Toxicity, ecotoxicity, and biodegradability (environmental benefits)
  • Production and use (energy security benefits).

Learn more about submitting a fuel petition:

Open Actions

DOE is currently maintaining an open docket on a rulemaking for Fischer-Tropsch diesel (FTD). The FTD petitions, as well as analyses, reports, notices, and other information, are available in DOE's Docket for Rulemaking on Fischer-Tropsch Diesel Fuels (input EERE-2009-FC-0002 in the By Docket ID Search box on Regulations.gov Web site).

For more information, contact fuel.petitions@nrel.gov.