EPA Lowers Renewable-Fuels Target for 2014

FREEPORT, IL - OCTOBER 4: Signs mark the location of various corn hybrids grown for use in ethanol production on a plot of land farmed by Kevin Otte October 4, 2004 near Freeport, Illinois. Certain varieties of corn grown specifically for ethanol production have been determined to produce about 4 percent more ethanol than other varieties. A bushel of corn produces 2.7 gallons of ethanol. Currently the United States produces 3.3 billion gallons a year, by 2012 it is estimated it will exceed 5 billion gallons a year. 
National Journal
Clare Foran
Nov. 15, 2013, 3:28 a.m.

The En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency dealt a blow to bio­fuels pro­du­cers Fri­day with the re­lease of a pro­pos­al for the 2014 re­new­able-fuel stand­ard re­vis­ing the total re­new­able volume ob­lig­a­tions down­ward for the first time.

The 2014 man­date pro­poses a range of 15 bil­lion to 15.52 bil­lion gal­lons of bio­fuels to be ad­ded to the U.S. fuel sup­ply next year, with a re­com­men­ded tar­get of 15.21 bil­lion gal­lons with­in that range.

The tar­get num­ber, if it be­comes law, would be a re­duc­tion of nearly 3 bil­lion gal­lons re­l­at­ive to the stat­utory re­quire­ment for 2014 of 18.15 bil­lion gal­lons.

It also pro­poses a range of 2 bil­lion to 2.51 bil­lion gal­lons of ad­vanced bio­fuels with a re­com­men­ded tar­get of 2.2 bil­lion gal­lons. The range falls be­low the pro­posed tar­get of 3.75 bil­lion gal­lons un­der the En­ergy Se­cur­ity and In­de­pend­ence Act of 2007.

On a call with re­port­ers Fri­day morn­ing, a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial cited the blend wall, or the point at which eth­an­ol ex­ceeds 10 per­cent of the total fuel sup­ply, as one of the prin­cip­al reas­ons the agency de­cided to lower the man­date.

“The blend wall is an is­sue of par­tic­u­lar in­terest in de­term­in­ing this year’s stand­ard be­cause pro­duc­tion of re­new­able fuels con­tin­ues to in­crease but over­all gas­ol­ine con­sump­tion con­tin­ues to be less than what Con­gress an­ti­cip­ated when the pro­gram was es­tab­lished in 2007,” the of­fi­cial com­men­ted, adding: “While un­der the law volumes of re­new­able fuel are set to in­crease each year this unanti­cip­ated re­duc­tion in fuel con­sump­tion brings us to a point where the real­it­ies of the fuel mar­ket must be ad­dressed to prop­erly im­ple­ment the pro­gram.”

The oil and gas in­dustry has long warned that blend­ing eth­an­ol at levels above 10 per­cent of the total gas­ol­ine sup­ply could dam­age car en­gines. Bio­fuels pro­du­cers, however, have dis­missed these claims as an at­tempt by the in­dustry to weak­en the stand­ard.

Once the rule is pub­lished in the Fed­er­al Re­gister there will be a 60-day pub­lic com­ment peri­od. The agency is ex­pec­ted to fi­nal­ize the rule by next spring.

Read the full re­lease here. 

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