Obama launches new biofuels, carbon capture policies

03 February 2010 21:03  [Source: ICIS news]

Obama announces new biofuels policyWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The Obama administration on Wednesday launched a new multi-department policy to advance US biofuels production and consumption and to accelerate carbon capture technology to maintain use of coal as an energy fuel.

As part of the policy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday issued its final rule to implement the second phase of the US renewable fuels standard (RFS2) to reach a target consumption of 36bn gallons of biofuels by the nation by 2022.

The new biofuels consumption goals were established by the 2007 statute, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).

However, for the first time the EPA final rule includes a requirement that takes into consideration global land use or diversions when establishing the environmental value of corn-based ethanol compared with regular gasoline. That land-use evaluation reduces the environmental benefit of food-based biofuels.

The new White House policy puts renewed emphasis on advancing development of biofuels based on non-food cellulosic feedstocks such as switch grass, corn stover or other agricultural by-products.

The EPA said it is setting the total renewable fuel requirement for this year at 12.95bn gallons, including 100m gallons of cellulosic ethanol.

As part of the new policy, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing expanded funding for companies that want to convert biomass to bio-energy and biobased products.

Along with the Department of Energy (DOE), EPA and USDA issued a joint report - Growing America’s Fuel - outlining administration strategy for meeting or exceeding the existing biofuels targets.

Those three departments make up the biofuels interagency working group that President Barack Obama established in May last year to co-ordinate biofuels policy among various federal agencies.

Also as part of Wednesday’s new policy strategy, Obama issued a presidential memorandum establishing a parallel interagency task force on carbon capture and storage (CCS), variously known as carbon capture and sequestration.

That task force will be headed by DOE and EPA but will include nine other federal agencies, Obama said, and will seek to overcome the barriers to wide scale commercial deployment of carbon capture and sequestration technologies that would enable continued but environmentally sound use of vast US coal resources.

Obama said the carbon capture task force is to develop a plan within six months on how commercial deployment of CCS can be achieved nationwide by 2016.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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