As the comment period came to a close on the proposed rules for the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen biodiesel and advanced biofuel volumes. The organization says EPA is significantly underestimating biodiesel’s capacity to deliver more advanced biofuel over the coming years.
“We believe the evidence clearly shows that growing biodiesel and renewable diesel volumes will help achieve this Administration’s goals for strengthening the economy, reducing carbon emissions and other costly pollution, and diversifying and strengthening fuel markets that are now dangerously dependent on petroleum,” NBB wrote to the EPA in a letter accompanying the official comments filed. “The RFS and specifically the Biomass-based Diesel program do this in a cost-effective way that benefits consumers through lower costs at the diesel pump.”
“We can build on this success over the next decade,” the comments continue. “Unfortunately, this proposal, which calls for a Biomass-based Diesel volume of 2.1 billion gallons in 2018 and 4 billion gallons of overall Advanced Biofuels next year, fails to do so by severely underestimating the capacity for growth in the biodiesel and renewable diesel sector.”
Biodiesel has made up the vast majority of Advanced Biofuel production under the RFS to date. According to the EPA, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel. Biodiesel and renewable diesel – a similar diesel alternative – fall under the Biomass-based Diesel category of the RFS, which is an Advanced Biofuel category intended to ensure that the policy also addresses the diesel fuel market, not just gasoline. Under the law, Advanced Biofuels must reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent compared to petroleum fuels.
The EPA proposal would establish a 2.1-billion-gallon Biomass-based Diesel requirement in 2018, up only slightly from 2 billion gallons for 2017. Citing unused capacity and data showing that Biomass-based Diesel consumption this year will significantly exceed 2.1 billion gallons, NBB is calling for at least 2.5 billion gallons for 2018.
The higher biodiesel volumes would also allow the EPA to establish higher overall Advanced Biofuels, which includes not just biodiesel and renewable diesel but other fuels such as cellulosic ethanol. NBB is calling for an Advanced Biofuel volume of 4.75 billion gallons instead the proposed 4 billion gallons.