EPA Boosts Renewable Fuel Requirement by 66% for 2008
February 13, 2008
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 8 that it is raising the renewable fuel standard (RFS) for 2008 to comply with the Energy Independence and Security Act, which President Bush signed in December 2007. The RFS applies to refiners, importers, and non-oxygenate blenders of gasoline and sets a minimum percentage of the fuel that must be displaced with renewable fuels, such as ethanol. The EPA is raising that minimum percentage from 4.66% to 7.76%, a 66% increase, in order to meet the new energy act's requirement to consume 9 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2008. The requirement will continue to ratchet up each year until it reaches 36 billion gallons in 2022. See the EPA press release and the RFS Program Web site.
Meanwhile, companies are increasing their efforts to produce ethanol from cellulosic biomass, such as grasses, wood wastes, or agricultural wastes. In October 2007, Abengoa Bioenergy opened a pilot plant in York, Nebraska, that will process nearly 800 tons of biomass each day, producing about 11.6 million gallons per year (mgpy) of ethanol. The facility was partly funded by DOE. In November 2007, SunOpta Inc. announced its plans to build a facility in Little Falls, Minnesota, that will produce 10 mgpy of ethanol from wood chips. In late January, KL Process Design Group began operating a facility in Upton, Wyoming, to convert waste wood into ethanol, and in early February, Coskata, Inc. announced plans to build and operate a commercial facility by 2010. All of the current and planned facilities appear to be using enzymes to break down the biomass, allowing it to be fermented into ethanol. The new energy act requires cellulosic biofuels to contribute 100 million gallons to the nation's fuel supply in 2010, accelerating to 10 billion gallons in 2020 and 16 billion gallons in 2022. See the press releases from Abengoa Bioenergy, SunOpta, KL and Coskata.