EPA under pressure to issue 2012 biofuel targets

Source: Phil Brasher • Des Moines Register  • Posted: Friday, December 23, 2011

The new year is almost here and the Obama administration has yet to tell refiners how much biofuel they’ll have to use in 2012. The Environmental Protection Agency is overdue releasing next year’s requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

One of the biggest questions is how much cellulosic biofuel the EPA will mandate. Cellulosic fuels are made from crop residue, grasses, wood and other sources of cellulose, the fibrous material that makes up plants.

The 2007 energy law mandated the use of 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2012 that very little production has actually developed. The EPA proposed in June to slash the cellulosic target for 2012 to a range of 3.5 to 12.9 million gallons.

The final numbers are currently at the White House for review. “We will issue it (the final regulation) as soon as that review is complete,” said EPA spokeswoman Catherine Milbourn.

The Renewable Fuels Association is pressing the administration to release the numbers, saying producers and refiners both need to know the biofuel requirements. “At the very least, EPA should immediately explain the reasoning for the delay,” the group said in a letter.

The agency said in June that it would likely leave alone the targets for other fuels, including biodiesel and corn ethanol. The biodiesel target is set to go from 800 million gallons this year to a billion gallons in 2012. The corn ethanol mandate is set to rise from 12.6 billion gallons to 13.2 billion in 2012.