The industry comments on proposed 2013 RFS volumes

By Erin Voegele | April 09, 2013

The public comment period on the U.S. EPA’s proposed rule for the 2013 renewable fuel standard (RFS) is now closed. According to the rulemaking's docket folder on, nearly 50 public comments were submitted on the proposal.

The EPA released the rulemaking on Jan. 31. The agency has proposed to set the cellulosic biofuel volume at 14 million gallons, the biomass-based diesel volume at 1.28 billion gallons, the advanced biofuel volume at 2.75 billion gallons and the renewable fuel volume at 16.55 billion gallons.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, submitted comments on the rulemaking, encouraging the EPA to revise its proposed 2013 cellulosic biofuel standard to better correspond with current expectations of actual 2013 cellulosic biofuel volumes. He also said EPA should partially reduce the 2013 advanced biofuel standard, as sugarcane ethanol volumes are unlikely to be available in sufficient quantities to help meet the requirement. Dinneen also stressed that the E10 blend wall should not be a factor in EPA’s decision-making process to set the 2013 volume standards.

E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. Inc. submitted a comment, noting that the company believes that U.S. production of cellulosic biofuels is likely to expand rapidly over the next few years. The company also noted that signals of instability in the RFS would chill the significant private sector investments flowing into commercial-scale production of cellulosic fuels, many of which have been made by foreign-based companies.

According to a comment submitted by Ensyn Corp., the company supports the 14 million gallons cellulosic volume proposed by the EPA. “Based upon our experience and active engagement in the renewable fuels industry, Ensyn is confident that EPA’s proposed 2013 cellulosic [renewable volume obligation] is reasonable and achievable,” said Ensyn in its comment. “Ensyn is currently producing renewable fuels from cellulosic biomass for transportation fuels and heating oil. Under existing pathways for cellulosic diesel and jet fuel, and for renewable gasoline, Ensyn can contribute significantly to the mandated volumes beginning in 2014.” The company also said it can make additional contributions to meeting the volume requirements once EPA finalizes a pathway for renewable fuel oil.

Edeniq Inc. also submitted comments on proposed rule. According to the company, EPA should take into account that technology to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber, at a run rate of 10 million gallons per year, could be online by the fourth quarter of 2013 if EPA would take appropriate actions to approve the pathway. The company also stresses that here is no basis for a cellulosic standard lower than what has been proposed.

Virent Inc. said its supports the manner in which EPA has maintained the advanced pool mandates as originally mandated, noting that maintaining those mandates is supporting the development of the advanced biofuel and biobased diesel. Virent also said that it is fundamentally important for the EPA to expeditiously move new feedstock and fuel pathways forward to a completed and approved stage.

In its comment, the American Coalition for Ethanol warned EPA that the proposed advanced biofuel volume requirement for 2013 serves as a magnet for Brazilian sugarcane ethanol imports. “ACE does support maintaining a robust advanced biofuel target for 2013 and we believe the RFS has been a catalyst for technology innovations which enable U.S. ethanol producers to participate in advanced biofuel production,” said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of ACE, in the comment. “For example, thanks to EPA’s approval of a pathway whereby a combination of grain-sorghum and technologies enables ethanol facilities to qualify as advanced biofuel producers under the RFS, some ACE-members will be in a position to supply domestic, cost-competitive, advanced biofuel from grain-sorghum this year.” The organization also encouraged the EPA to consider revisiting and improving its lifecycle greenhouse gas analysis for corn ethanol.

Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels also weighed in on the rulemaking, supporting the proposed cellulosic volume and encouraging the EPA to set this year’s and future projections in a way that accurately reflects the strong expected growth of cellulosic biofuels. “While cellulosic biofuel is on the verge of robust growth in commercial production, to avoid undercutting this growth, EPA’s regulations must provide regulatory and market support consistent with congressional intent in enacting the RFS,” said the company in its comment. “Under this rulemaking, it is critical that EPA adhere to congressional intent in enacting the RFS by adopting 2013 cellulosic biofuel obligations based on projections that accurately reflect the strong expected growth of cellulosic biofuel projection in 2013 and in the following years.”