EPA to ‘reset’ biofuel targets due to production shortfalls

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According to Reuters The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to propose new targets for the final three years of the nation’s renewable fuel programme in January. The new targets will replace the ‘ambitious’ decade-old goals that were set by Congress.

The planned reset of the US Renewable Fuel Standard is likely to cause animosity between two large biofuel producers. This is because the corn growing industry would like to have the highest possible targets whilst the oil companies prefer the lower targets to spur on investments.

Established in 2007 to boost the Corn Belt economy and aid the country to use less fossil fuels, the current standard is due to expire in 2022. The set standard requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels such as corn-based ethanol into US gasoline and diesel each year.

Reuters cited two anonymous sources who told the news outlet that the EPA plan to ‘slash’ the 2022 target in order to bring it closer to current market realities. However, they also said that the agency has not settled on a number as of yet.

In 2018 the industry produced around 20 billion gallons of biofuel, though Congress had hoped that production volumes would have reached 36 billion under its standards.  The EPA recorded that corn fibre and algae based biofuels were the biggest shortfalls.

Due to the underperformance in production, the EPA has decided to ignore the statutory targets in its annual rule-making process. As it will instead set out what it views as more realistic and attainable yearly mandates.  

Emily Skor, chief executive of biofuel trade group Growth Energy has weighed in on the resetting of targets and told Reuters, “Our goal is simple: to keep moving the Renewable Fuel Standard forward, not backward.”