The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) boosted its 2012 goals for production of non-corn-based biofuels by about 36 percent, reflecting the federal government's efforts to both cut its dependency on foreign oil and find alternatives to corn- and alcohol-based fuels.

The EPA boosted its production goal for advanced biofuels, whose feedstocks range from sugarcane ethanol to algae, by 48 percent, while increasing its goal for cellulosic biofuels, or biofuels produced from grasses, wood and plants, by 34 percent. Production of biomass-based biodiesel is set to rise 25 percent next year, according to the EPA.

The EPA also reiterated its goal set in June to boost renewable fuel production next year by 9 percent to 15.2 billion gallons, or 9.2 percent of total fuel production. Those numbers are up from the 13.95 billion gallons, or 8 percent of the fuel-production total, that the EPA set for 2011.

Annual increases in the EPA's renewable-fuel production guidelines are in response to the Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2) and 2007's Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which in part set a U.S. production goal of 36 billion annual gallons of renewable fuel by 2022.

What the new goals mean for the environment is debatable, given the issues surrounding the production of biofuels such as corn ethanol. Supporters say more ethanol production lessens domestic dependency on foreign oil and creates more farming jobs. But many environmentalists, academic researchers and economists have questioned using corn as a fuel feedstock, citing both spikes in corn prices that at times have exacerbated worldwide shortages of many grain-based foods, and environmental concerns related to potential waterway contamination from fertilizer and additional water and electricity requirements for corn production.

Some of these issues may be mitigated by more production of second-generation ethanol from waste material, algae and other feedstocks instead of corn. Pressures to change are coming from all sides. Earlier this week, the United States Congress decided against extending corn-based ethanol subsidies in a move that's drawn praise from environmental groups and taxpayer advocates.

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EPA Finalizes 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards
Release Date: 12/27/2011

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency's Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). EPA continues to support greater use of renewable fuels within the transportation sector every year through the RFS2 program, which encourages innovation, strengthens American energy security, and decreases greenhouse gas pollution.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the RFS2 program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.

The final 2012 overall volumes and standards are:

Biomass-based diesel (1.0 billion gallons; 0.91 percent)
Advanced biofuels (2.0 billion gallons; 1.21 percent)
Cellulosic biofuels (8.65 million gallons; 0.006 percent)
Total renewable fuels (15.2 billion gallons; 9.23 percent)

Last spring EPA had proposed a volume requirement of 1.28 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel for 2013. EISA specifies a one billion gallon minimum volume requirement for that category for 2013 and beyond, but enables EPA to increase the volume requirement after consideration of a variety of environmental, market, and energy-related factors. EPA is continuing to evaluate the many comments from stakeholders on the proposed biomass based diesel volume for 2013 and will take final action next year.

Overall, EPA's RFS2 program encourages greater use of renewable fuels, including advanced biofuels. For 2012, the program is implementing EISA's requirement to blend more than 1.25 billion gallons of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2011.

More information on the standards and regulations: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm

More information on renewable fuels: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/index.htm


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  • 13 Comments
      Marco Polo
      • 8 Months Ago
      After spending many years watching the development of bio-fuels, and the industries they spawn, I have formed the following opinions. What the US does or doesn't do with it's corn/ethanol subsidies will not affect anyone but a small group of American interests. US government subsidies for corn/ethanol production can't be justified economically, but politically the additional income to rural communities may be valuable. In nations where a single crop is over-produced and struggles to find a viable market, bio-fuel becomes an economic 'local industry' alternative to imported oil. No existing feedstock is available as a widespread, international, industrially produced energy replacement for fossil fuel. Small scale production may produce some moral or environmental benefit, but is not significant as a viable, 'stand alone' product. The most exciting development in bio-fuel production is the Virent process. This process supported by Shell/Honda/Cargill allows for a suitable feedstock to be fed into existing oil refineries and can replace Gasoline, Aviation fuel, Diesel, Shipping Fuel, ect.., with renewable bio-fuel. The 'new fuel' can be either blended with fossil fuel or produced with sufficient characteristics to require no modifications to existing ice technology. The Virent process allows for the production of a 'new fuel' at a significant reduction in cost to refining oil, and can utilise all the existing oil infrastructure. In theory, it would be possible to produce a renewable fuel at a pump price of approx. $US 3 per gal. The problem is feedstock. Each of the major Oil companies, (with Shell and BP as front runners) have formed alliances with the worlds largest Agri-corporations, Gargill, Bunge,Nestle, Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, and thousands of Universities and laboratories around the world. Even the PRC, has diverted huge sums from Solar and other energy to bio-fuel feedstock R&D and logistical production, (largely at the behest of the PLA and CCP.) The PRC has also ordered it's 3 giant oil companies to support the development of bio-fuels. Given these vast resources, and motivated by self preservation, a solution to the feedstock problem looks far more feasible than before the Virent process was announced. EV and Bio-Fuel technology with both compete as long term solutions to the end of the 'Age of Oil', both have a major hurdle to overcome, with EV's it's energy storage, and with Bio-fuel it's economic feedstock. Both technologies have pro's and con's, but in the end, the most successful will be decided by which technology can deliver a viable outcome faster. The dominant technology will reduce investment in other technologies. All other technologies, hydrogen, fuel cells, etc, will become minor niche technologies. These technologies will take decades to fully develop. Dramatic, unrealistic predictions of what will occur in the the short term (2yrs) are pointless and unhelpful
      Letstakeawalk
      • 8 Months Ago
      Alcohol fuels are just another step towards fuel cells...
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Much rather see it in fuel cells than so much waisted in the ICE via heat. Until you can make the fuel easily at home it will never be as good as EV's. Local driving is the driving that is predominately done.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 8 Months Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          "Much rather see it in fuel cells than so much waisted in the ICE via heat." On that, we can agree.
          Marco Polo
          • 8 Months Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          EVsuperHero If a sustainable, renewable Bio-fuel can be sold at the pump for under $4,00 a gallon, I'm afraid no one will car about what's wasted or efficiency! V8's will become fashionable again faster than you can blink! Ev's would shrink back to the niche transport of 30 years ago! Desirable or not, human nature is what it is, no one will invest in an industry that has no economic rationale. The Bio-fuel feedstock problem is not logistically impossible, not are the proposed solutions completely beyond the laws of of bio-genetics or physics. Like EV energy storage, it's a matter of research funding and economic conditions. This doesn't mean I am advocating that EV R&D, is valueless and Bio-Fuels will succeed, just that when it comes to technology, it pay to be open minded.
          EZEE
          • 8 Months Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Actually, I found this home ethanol system for $9,995. And you can get a generator that's runs on what it produces. http://www.microfueler.com/t-product.aspx Before everyone screams, not saying I am into ethanol (like saying I would vote for Daryl Issa). But, the comment was made on Home production....
      Dave
      • 8 Months Ago
      http://seekingalpha.com/article/314865-coskata-swings-for-biofuel-fences-with-100-million-ipo "Another hot biofuel IPO has been announced: Coskata has filed with the SEC to raise up to $100 million, following Fulcrum's $115 million filing in September. The Warrenville, Illinois-based Coskata is the latest entrant in the race to produce cellulosic ethanol at industrial levels. According to its filing, Coskata's business plan focuses on utilizing low-cost feedstocks, like woody biomass and municipal waste, using a hybrid biothermal process to break down cellulose that Coskata claims produces extremely high yields."
      Ryan M
      • 8 Months Ago
      Ethanol has less fuel efficiency. It causes food prices to go up because much of the crops are turned into Ethanol. To grow these single crops over and over again is destroying the soil. The farmers put mass amounts of nitrogen on their land to replenish the soil with chemical nutrients. The excess nutrients flows into local waters such as the Mississippi. It causes dead zones and algae blooms. I hope Ethanol fails miserably. It's not doing many, much good.
        Marco Polo
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ryan M
        Ryan M You obviously hate Ethanol. But not all 'grown for fuel' crops are harmful to the soil, in fact many can be grown on non-arable land and help with desalination and desertification, some are even legumes! Nor do fuel crops necessarily compete with food. Most of the corn varieties grown for ethanol, are not suitable for food. Bad farming practises, are just that, bad farming practises. Most ethanol crops are actually beneficial in preserving land cultivation. Your desire for soil conservation is admirable, but you really should do some research into the farming industry and ethanol production with an open mind.
      PR
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is the make-or-break point for bio-fuels. Either large scale cellulosic ethanol and bio-diesel succeeds in the next couple of years, or the whole 20-year plan will come to a crashing halt. I'm obviously behind the long-term plan, and getting past the current stage we're in as quickly as possible.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 8 Months Ago
      Good luck with that, EPA.. Nothing beats dino juice or renewable energy yet. Been watching 5+ years of biofuel hype.. and i think the true magic will only happen ( if ever ) if we get ourselves involved in an oil crisis.
        EZEE
        • 8 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        And off in the distance, Carney pumps his fist, and we hear a 'yes!' echoing over the hills...
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