EPA Official Explains RFS2 at Ethanol Conference

Cindy Zimmerman

2010 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

The new rule for the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard, fresh out of the box just two weeks ago, was the main topic of discussion at the Renewable Fuels Association’s 15th National Ethanol Conference in Orlando. Sarah Dunham, Transportation and Regional Programs Division Director with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, boiled down the guts of the new RFS2 in a 45 minute presentation that highlighted changes made in lifecycle analysis determinations from the rule as originally proposed.

“I can safely say that this is the area we got more comment than any other area in the rule,” Dunham said, calling it very constructive and helpful to get real data and science to apply to the rule. This led to “significant” decreases in estimates of international indirect land use change related to biofuels production, “more than 50-60-70 percent in some cases,” she added. Using corn ethanol as an example, she noted that the final rule factored in both increasing yields and the value of co-products, which had not been in the original model

Dunham also talked about how EPA addressed “uncertainty” in their analysis. “There is inherent uncertainty in these assessments,” she said. “And we thought it was important to try to formally recognize that uncertainty” and incorporate it into the analysis. The assessments will be updated over the next two years as more information becomes known.

The regulations for RFS2 are scheduled to go into effect on July 1 and between now and then EPA will be working with the Renewable Fuels Association and the biofuels industry in general to conduct workshops to help inform producers about the new rule and what it means to them.

If you are in the industry, it is worth listening to Sarah’s presentation, including answers to questions at the end asked by moderator Charles Knauss with Bingham McCutchen LLP. Listen to the audio in the player below and you can see screen shots of some of the slides she references in the NEC conference photo album.

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