US outlines major biofuels expansion

US President Joe Biden’s administration has unveiled a three-year proposal to expand the country’s biofuels useage.

The proposal also includes a pathway for electric vehicle manufacturers to generate credits.

Under the plan, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, oil refiners will be required to add 20.82 billion gallons of biofuels to their fuel in 2023, 21.87 billion gallons in 2024, and 22.68 billion gallons in 2025.

Those volumes will include more than 15 billion gallons per year of conventional biofuels like corn-based ethanol, with the rest made up by advanced fuels like those made from switchgrass, animal fats, or methane from dairy farms and landfills.

The US government estimates that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels can be more than 40% lower than straight gasoline, meaning adding them to the fuel mix can help fight climate change.

The proposal marks the latest chapter for the more than decade old Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), under which oil refiners are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s fuel mix or buy tradable credits from those that do.

While Congress set out specific goals for the program through 2022, the law expands the EPA’s authority for 2023 and beyond to change the way the RFS is administered.

In addition to boosting mandated volumes, the EPA hopes to use the reset to introduce a pathway for electric vehicle makers to generate credits. That would recognise the possibility that electric vehicles could be charged using power from the grid generated by biofuels like landfill or agricultural methane.

The EPA proposal foresees electric vehicle manufacturers generating as many as 600 million credits called e-RINs in 2024, and 1.2 billion of them by 2025. Under the scheme, one e-RIN would be generated for every 6.5 biofuel-powered kilowatt hours in an EV battery.

The Renewable Fuels Association welcomed the proposal, saying it “solidifies a role for the Renewable Fuel Standard in future efforts to reduce carbon emissions and enhance our nation’s energy security.”

The EPA’s biofuel mandate for the current year is 20.88 billion gallons, which includes the annual volume requirement of 20.63 billion plus a supplement of 250 million gallons for volumes that were not blended in previous years.