The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, May 29, proposed what the agency called an “ambitious yet responsible” plan for volume requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and for biomass-based diesel for 2017. The proposed targets are higher than a 2014 proposal for volume targets but remain lower the levels Congress originally intended in 2007.

“This proposal marks an important step forward in making sure the Renewable Fuel Standard program delivers on the Congressional intent to increase biofuel use, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security,” said Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air. “We believe these proposed volume requirements will provide a strong incentive for continued investment and growth in biofuels.”

According to an EPA fact sheet, the agency evaluated the availability of qualifying renewable fuels and factors that may constrain the supply of those fuels to the vehicles that use them (the so-called blend wall). Additionally, EPA says in the fact sheet, factors related to the ability of the market to respond to the revised targets by changing production volumes, infrastructure requirements, and relative pricing to boost the use of renewable fuels.

The 2014 levels reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel use in that year, and the proposed targets for remainder of the years steadily increase over time. By 2016, the target for total renewable fuels production is 17.4 billion gallons, up from 15.93 billion gallons in 2014.

The proposed targets for cellulosic biofuel are 33 million gallons in 2014, 106 million gallons in 2015 and 206 million gallons in 2016. For advanced biofuels, the proposed targets are 2.68 billion gallons in 2014, 2.9 billion gallons in 2015 and 3.4 billion gallons in 2016. Biomass-based diesel proposed targets are 2.68 billion gallons in 2014, 1.7 billion gallons in 2015, 1.8 billion gallons in 2016 and 1.9 billion gallons in 2017.

The American Farm Bureau Federation said EPA should have followed the levels included in the 2007 law.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard has produced jobs, decreased reliance on imported oil and contributed to cleaner air,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “For those reasons, we need more ethanol, not less, and living up to Congressional mandates is the place to begin.”

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson also said EPA should have stuck with the levels in the original law and disagreed with EPA’s assertion that it has the authority to adjust the levels in the mandate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on the same day announced a plan to invest up to $100 million in competitive grants to states to support the infrastructure needed to deliver more renewable fuel options to the market. Johnson called the grant announcement “helpful and appreciated.”

EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposal on June 25 in Kansas City, Kansas. The agency will accept comments until July 27 and intends to finalize the standards by November 30.

For more information on the proposed RFS targets, go to www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm