|05-30-2015, 01:32 AM||#1|
E.P.A. Proposes Changes to Fuel Standards
The Environmental Protection Agency released a much-delayed proposal governing the amount of biofuel that must be blended into conventional vehicle fuel Friday, seeking to reduce the levels specified in the mandate but still require modest increases over the next few years.
The proposal, which would become final by the end of November, would set levels for last year at what producers actually made but increase the total volume of renewable fuel required by 1.5 billion gallons, roughly 9 percent, by the end of 2016.
That still falls short of the mandate set by Congress, which has been criticized as unrealistic.
“There are real limits to the actual amounts of biofuels that can be supplied to consumers at this time,” Janet McCabe, the E.P.A. administrator, wrote in a blog post. “These proposed volumes are achievable in the timeframes under consideration. At the same time, the volumes steadily increase every year, reflecting Congress’s clear intent to drive up the nation’s use of renewable fuel.”
The announcement — which seemed to please few — represents the latest turn in the agency’s beleaguered journey since it began requiring increasing levels of ethanol to be incorporated into vehicle fuel under energy laws passed in 2005 and 2007. At that time, American dependence on foreign oil was high, as were prices.
But now, gasoline prices are lower, as is demand. The market is already saturated with regular corn ethanol, and production of cellulosic, or so-called advanced, biofuel — made from nonfood parts of corn plants or other biomass like wood waste — is lower than what the mandate has required refiners to use.
While some saw the agency’s new proposal as an important step toward fixing a flawed system, many others were critical of the move and called for an overhaul of the mandate, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“Every year since the Renewable Fuel Standard was expanded, E.P.A. has missed implementation deadlines, waived entire portions of annual required volumes and has had to approve imported feedstocks for R.F.S. compliance,” Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a prepared statement. “All of these actions by E.P.A. give a clear case for a mismanaged program in need of rigorous oversight.”
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