WASHINGTON — The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a multi-part proposal that includes required volumes of biofuels usage under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for the next three years.

This is the first time that the EPA is setting the biofuel volume targets without using those outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The statute does not include volumes after 2022.

In setting the volumes, the EPA said it considered a variety of factors specified in the statute, including costs, air quality, climate change, implementation of the program to data, energy security, infrastructure issues, commodity prices and water quality and supply.

The EPA proposes to set the 2023 total RFS requirement at 20.82 billion gallons, with 5.82 billion gallons coming from advanced biofuels and 15 billion gallons from conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol. In addition, the EPA proposes to add a supplemental volume of 250 million gallons on top of the 2023 standards to address a 2017 decision from the DC Circuit Court in a case brought against the EPA by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and other leading farm and biofuel groups.

For 2024, the EPA proposes a total RFS volume of 21.87 billion gallons, comprising 6.62 billion gallons of advanced biofuel and 15.25 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuels. In 2025, the EPA proposes to require 22.68 billion gallons of total renewable fuel, including 7.43 billion gallons of advanced biofuel and 15.25 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuel.

The RFA said the proposal creates a clear pathway for sustainable growth in the production and use of low-carbon renewable fuels.

 “Once finalized, this rule will significantly accelerate growth and investment in the low-carbon renewable fuels that will help decarbonize our nation’s transportation sector, extend domestic fuel supplies, and bolster the rural economy,” said Geoff Cooper, president and chief executive officer of the RFA. “By including three years’ worth of RFS volumes, EPA’s proposed rule will finally provide certainty and stability for the entire supply chain. EPA Administrator Michael Regan put the RFS program back on track with the 2022 volume obligations, and today’s proposal builds upon that solid foundation. RFA thanks Administrator Regan and the Biden administration for continuing to make good on their commitment to grow the marketplace for lower-carbon, lower-cost renewable fuels.”

Cooper noted that these renewable volume obligations also would stimulate rapid growth in E15 and E85, making it that much more important that a resolution is found for allowing year-round sales of E15, especially with new legislation filed this week with the support of RFA, the American Petroleum Institute and others.

However, the American Soybean Association (ASA) said the proposed volumes were “deeply disappointing for the biofuels industry and threatens the integrity of the RFS by significantly dialing back annual increases in volume obligations.”

“…this draft rule slams the brakes on progress being made in biofuels investment and growth,” said Brad Doyle, president of the ASA and soy grower from Arkansas. “Instead of continuing to support available, low-emission plant-based fuel sources, EPA has changed course and seemingly is ignoring the major investments in and consumer demand for biomass-based diesel and other biofuels that exists right now.”

The ASA said the “very insignificant volume increases” for 2023-25 could stifle growth and jeopardize the existing biofuels industry.

The EPA also is proposing new regulations governing the generation of qualifying renewable electricity made from renewable biomass that is used for transportation fuel in electric vehicles.

The EPA will be soliciting public comment on the proposed rule and holding a public hearing in January.