Tuesday, May 05, 2009

President Announces Biofuels Initiatives & Proposed RFS

May 5: President Obama announced steps to further his Administration’s commitment to advance biofuels research and commercialization. Specifically, he signed a Presidential Directive establishing a Biofuels Interagency Working Group, announced additional Recovery Act funds for renewable fuel projects, and announced the Administration's notice of a Proposed Rulemaking on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). President Obama said, "We must invest in a clean energy economy that will lead to new jobs, new businesses and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The steps I am announcing today help bring us closer to that goal. If we are to be a leader in the 21st century global economy, then we must lead the world in clean energy technology. Through American ingenuity and determination, we can and will succeed."

The Biofuels Interagency Working Group (BIWG), to be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy and the Administrator of U.S EPA will work with the National Science and Technology Council's Biomass Research and Development Board in undertaking its work. Among other items outlined, the BIWG will develop the nation’s first comprehensive biofuel market development program to identify new policies to support the development of next-generation biofuels, increase flexible fuel vehicle use, and assist in retail marketing efforts; coordinate infrastructure policies impacting the supply, secure transport, and distribution of biofuels; and identify new policy options to promote the environmental sustainability of biofuels feedstock production, taking into consideration land use, habitat conservation, crop management practices, water efficiency and water quality, as well as lifecycle assessments of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding of $786.5 million will be provided to accelerate advanced biofuels research and development and expand commercialization by providing additional funding for commercial biorefineries. A mix of new funding opportunities and additional funding for existing projects will be allocated across four main areas: $480 million solicitation for integrated pilot- and demonstration-scale biorefineries; $176.5 million for commercial-scale biorefinery projects; $110 million for fundamental research in key program areas; and $20 million for ethanol research.

On the Renewable Fuel Standard, EPA will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking outlining the strategy for increasing the supply of renewable fuels, poised to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, as mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). EISA will establish four categories of renewable fuels including: Cellulosic biofuels; Biomass-based diesel; Advanced biofuels; and Total renewable fuel. The proposal would require 36 billion gallons annually of renewable fuels, of which 16 billion gallons must be cellulosic biofuels; and 1 billion gallons must be of biomass-based diesel. At most 15 billion gallons of the renewable fuel mandate can be met with conventional biofuels, including corn-based ethanol.

For the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace. Refiners will be required to meet the requirements to receive credit toward meeting the new standards.EPA also will conduct peer reviews on the lifecycle-analysis (GHG emissions over the life of the fuels) methodology and the results for various fuels and feed-source combinations. A 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule will begin upon publication in the Federal Register.

Access a release from the White House (
click here). Access a prepublication copy of the 549-page proposed rule (click here). Access a 9-page summary of the RFS proposal (click here). Access EPA's RFS website for complete information including fact sheets, 822-page regulatory impact analysis and more (click here). Access a release from EPA (click here). Access a release from USDA (click here). Access a release from DOE (click here).