Tuesday, July 13, 2010

EPA again proposes cuts to biofuels mandate, proposes far lower goal for cellulosic ethanol

For the second straight year the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed cutting the ambitious nationwide biofuels mandate established in the 2007 energy bill. In releasing its 2011 percentage standards for the four fuel categories that qualify for the "renewable fuel standard" program, EPA gave "cellulosic biofuels a minuscule share of the mandate, at hundredths of a percent of the total fuel share," Allison Winter of Environment & Energy Daily reports. The proposal calls for 5 million to 17.1 million gallons for cellulosic biofuels, far below the 2007 bill's goal of 150 million gallons for the fuel by 2011.

"The proposed numbers are significantly below the targets set for cellulosic biofuels in the energy bill -- illustrating continued hurdles for the industry to produce affordable, commercial-scale quantities of the fuel," Winter writes. EPA said it would continue to evaluate the market before it finalizes the cellulosic standard. "Overall, EPA remains optimistic that the commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel will continue to grow in the years ahead," the agency said.

The biofuel industry has repeatedly called for an increase the allowable blend of ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent, a move which is expected to come in the near future but has been delayed by EPA at least twice. "We would like to see an expansion of the market overall; that is key to driving the investment for cellulosic and developing that as an industry," Chris Thorne of biofuels industry group Growth Energy told Winter. (Read more, subscription required)

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