US EPA issues final rule for new RFS2 pathways
On Jan. 5, the U.S. EPA issued a direct final rule regarding pathways for four new biofuel feedstocks under the renewable fuel standard (RFS2), including camelina oil, energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass. The energy cane, giant reed, and napiergrass pathways apply to ethanol and drop-in biofuels, while the camelina applies to biodiesel and renewable diesel production, including biobased jet fuel. The rule, which was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 5 and is scheduled to become effective on March 5, also addresses renewable gasoline and renewable gasoline blendstock as new fuel types. According to the EPA, the rule will become effective as scheduled unless it receives adverse comments or a hearing request by Feb. 6.
In the direct final rule, the EPA describes its life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions analysis for each feedstock and pathway type. For energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass, this included analysis of conversion into ethanol, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil and naphtha. For camelina oil, the rule included analysis related the conversion of the feedstock into biodiesel, renewable diesel, jet fuel, naphtha and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). According to these analysis, the EPA said that biodiesel, renewable diesel—including biojet and heating oil—as well as naphtha and LGP produced using camelina oil as feedstock meets the 50 percent GHG reduction threshold that qualifies it as an advanced biofuel. Regarding energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass, the EPA said that it believes cellulosic biofuel produced from the cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin portions of these feedstocks will have life-cycle GHG impacts similar to those associated with switchgrass, and that the resulting fuels should meet the 60 percent GHG reduction necessary to qualify as a cellulosic biofuel under the RFS2.
The rule also adds new pathways for the production of renewable gasoline and renewable gasoline blendstocks using specified feedstocks, fuel production processes, and process energy sources. According to the EPA, the feedstocks it considered for the pathways are those such as crop residues and cellulosic components of separated yard waste. Assuming biofuel production processes utilize natural gas, biogas, or biomass for process energy, the EPA said that it expects renewable gasoline and renewable gasoline blendstock produced using cellulosic feedstock to meet the 60 percent GHG reduction threshold necessary to qualify as a cellulosic biofuel under RFS2.