When Congress passed the Energy Independence Act of 2007, it stipulated that the next round of renewable energy standards would be in place by the start of 2009. Fast forward seven months and lawmakers and the alternative fuel industry is still waiting.
This week, the EPA extended by 60 days the public comment period on RFS-2, from July 27 to Sept. 25. The EPA’s proposal, which was published in the Federal Register on May 26, has been met with some resistance, most notably from the National Biodiesel Board. While RFS-2 sets forth minimum, incremental alt fuel volume requirements from 2009 through 2022, NBB is concerned that the federal government is essentially ignoring soy-based biofuels as one of the most legitimate alternatives currently on the market and focusing its efforts on more pie-in-the-sky options.
It all comes down to money, as the main objective of RFS-2 is to determine tax credits. Sources at the EPA say all RFS-2 does is provide market certainty. The NBB feels it has a lot to lose not only currently if fleets forego the use of biodiesel because the volume requirements are still pending but also in the future if the minimum levels remain far below other alt fuels, as NBB contends. In May, representatives told School Transportation News that RFS-2 made “poor assumptions” about how biodiesel could indirectly affect land usage, as the EPA maintains that soy-based biodiesel has contributed to mass deforestation in South America. The EPA has made it a priority to target alt fuels with the lowest carbon footprint, namely those produced by crops or means that most favorably impact the land itself or the people who live on it. Then there's the argument that biodiesel does little to ween the country off of foreign dependency on oil. A result could be a shake up of the conventional biodiesel industry, with producers foregoing soy beans and finding other means of making the fuel, such as by using algae, biomass or cellulosic ethanol.
Comments may be submitted and viewed at online by searching for Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2005.