EPA drops 2012 cellulosic requirements to zero

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013

U.S. EPA has altered its cellulosic biofuel requirements for 2012 — from 8.65 million gallons to zero

A federal court decision Friday vacated EPA’s 2012 cellulosic biofuels standard. As a result, obligated parties — oil companies required to show EPA that they blend biofuels in their fuel supply — won’t need to provide information on their compliance. The agency will submit refunds to companies that have submitted payments for 2012 cellulosic waiver credits.

Today was supposed to mark the deadline for obligated parties to submit their compliance data. Cellulosic biofuels — made from nonfood biodegradable stock like corn husks, wood or even household trash — have been touted as a promising way to cut greenhouse gases from the country’s vehicles, but the development of commercial-scale facilities has been slow

In 2009, the federal renewable fuel standard called for 500 million gallons of cellulosic fuels to be made in 2012. EPA revised that number to 8.65 million gallons, a fraction of the statutory requirement.

Earlier this month, the American Petroleum Institute (API) sent a letter to Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy, requesting that EPA make the change in its records

“This is the only outcome that will properly implement the court’s holding that EPA is required to ‘aim at accuracy,'” wrote Bob Greco, group director for downstream and industry operations for API.

Last year, 20,069 gallons of cellulosic biofuel was made, according to EPA data. EPA has been a strong supporter of developing cellulosic biofuels

“What excites me is that we actually issued a [renewable identification number] for cellulosic biofuel,” McCarthy said at an event at the Georgetown Climate Center last week. “It really was a milestone for me, because I know that one of the biggest wins in renewable fuels is our ability to produce fuel with cellulosic feedstock.

Reps. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced a bill earlier this month that would make EPA base its annual cellulosic targets on actual output levels, rather than goals.