Category News

EPA Sets New 3-Year Renewable Fuel Targets

Agency omits electricity, scales back goals
Ethanol biofuel
Photograph: Shutterstock

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced new renewable fuel volume targets and percentage standards for the next three years, but chose not to include eRINs, or environmental credits related to electricity and electric-vehicle charging. 

While EV advocates had advocated for including eRINs in the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard program to encourage greater adoption of EV charging, the new standards apply only to biofuels and renewable fuel.

In comparison to 2007, when Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) and set long-term goals of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, the new numbers aren’t as aggressive.

  • Cellulosic biofuel, which had been expected to reach 16 billion RINs (renewable identification numbers) in 2022, has a volume target of 0.84 billion RINs for 2023, according to the final rule.
  • Advanced biofuel, which had been expected to reach 21 billion RINs in 2022, has a volume target of 5.94 billion RINs for 2023.
  • Renewable fuel, which had been expected to reach 26 billion RINs in 2022, has a volume target of 20.94 billion RINs for 2023.

The new targets were necessary because the EISA of 2007, which amended the Clean Air Act and expanded the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, didn’t specify volume levels after 2022, the EPA said. The agency considered air quality, climate change, energy security, costs, water quality and other factors in establishing the new volume targets and percentage standards for the years 2023, 2024 and 2025, to provide certainty for a three-year period, the EPA said.

Industry Reaction

NATSO and SIGMA, two trade organizations representing fuel retailers and the nation’s travel plaza and truck-stop industry, said the EPA’s final blending targets for fuels could have been more aggressive in reducing emissions. “The final blending targets will result in fewer transportation energy emission reductions than the market is demonstrably capable of delivering,” said David Fialkov, executive vice president of government affairs for NATSO and SIGMA, in a statement.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor also criticized the EPA’s new targets, saying they were too low.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard program remains one of America’s most successful clean energy policies, but, yet again, its full potential as a climate solution remains untapped. EPA’s decision to lower its ambitions for conventional fuels runs counter to the direction set by Congress and will needlessly slow progress toward this administration’s climate goals,” Skor said in a statement. “We should be expanding market opportunities for higher blends like E15, not leaving carbon reductions on the table.”

The EPA’s final obligations and standards were different than the proposed numbers the agency had published on its website this year because they don’t include the benefit of the eRIN program, which the EPA expects to come back to in the future. “Given strong stakeholder interest in the proposed eRIN program and the range of potential benefits that the program could provide, EPA will continue to work on potential paths forward for the eRIN program,” the agency said in its final rule.

NATSO and SIGMA have advocated for an eRIN proposal that would encourage private investment in electric-vehicle charging stations. The EPA said it would consider the industry comments it has received as it revises the eRIN program.

“Viewed in conjunction with the agency’s recent proposed tailpipe emission standards, it is now clear that the Biden Administration is dangerously overestimating the speed at which the country will be able to transition to zero-emission vehicles, and at the same time underestimating the country’s desire to consume lower-carbon liquid fuels in the meantime,” Fialkov said. “Anyone serious about reducing transportation emissions should find this disconnect extremely troubling.”

The EPA’s final rule could have done more to encourage investment in lower-carbon renewable diesel and biodiesel for heavy-duty trucks, Fialkov said. “These fuels are commercially available today, and every truck that runs on them emits at least 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than trucks running on diesel,” he said.

Volume targets were provided in billions of RINs for each fuel, where one RIN is equivalent to one ethanol-equivalent gallon of renewable fuel.

Renewable Fuels targets


EPA Percentage Standards for biofuels

Tables courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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