UpdateUS refiners blast finalised 2012 renewable fuel mandates

27 December 2011 22:32  [Source: ICIS news]

(adds updates throughout)

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) on Tuesday blasted US renewable fuel mandates for 2012 as unrealistic.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “has acted unwisely to make a bad law worse with regulations not based on reality and science”, said NPRA president Charles Drevna.

“Once again, refiners are being ordered to use a substance that is not being produced in commercial quantities – cellulosic ethanol – and are being required to pay millions of dollars for failing to use this non-existent substance,” he continued.

The EPA on Tuesday finalised its renewable fuel mandate for 2012 at 15.2bn gal (57.6bn litres), more than 1.25bn gal over the amount mandated for 2011.

The mandate includes 1bn gal of biomass-based diesel, 2bn gal of advanced biofuels, and 8.65m gal of cellulosic biofuels – up from 6.6m gal of cellulosic biofuels for 2011.

The cellulosic ethanol requirements have been a source of contention with US oil refiners, who say they faced federal fines in excess of $6m (€4.6m) this year for failing to buy cellulosic ethanol.

If refiners do not purchase the mandated volumes of cellulosic ethanol, they have the option to buy EPA waivers at $1.13/gal for the cellulosic fuel they should have been using.

Refiners have argued that no US company is producing commercial volumes of cellulosic ethanol, and no such large-scale production of the biofuel is expected before 2013.

“This new rule is another reminder that the Renewable Fuel Standard needs to be modified to prevent harm to American consumers and the American economy,” Drevna said.

However, the EPA estimated that 10.45m gal of cellulosic biofuel – 1.8m gal more than the mandate – would be available in 2012.

The agency said it researched all potential production sources of cellulosic biofuel by company and facility before it reached its estimate.

“This included sources that were still in the planning stages, those that were under construction, and those that are already producing some volume of cellulosic ethanol, cellulosic diesel, or some other type of cellulosic biofuel,” the EPA said.

The agency said greater use of renewable fuels for transportation strengthens US energy security and decreases greenhouse gas emissions.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Brian Ford
+1 713 525 2653

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