WASHINGTON (CN) - A new Environmental Protection Agency rule takes greenhouse gas emission performance into account, for the first time, regarding the EPA's determination of the amount of renewable fuel required in gasoline and diesel fuel.
The new EPA limits affect gas and diesel produced or imported in 2010.
The EPA's greenhouse gas emission assessments are mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act, which the agency implements through the Renewable Fuel Standard program.
The assessments consider the full lifecycle emission impacts of fuel production from both direct and indirect emissions, including significant emissions from land use changes made to grow renewable fuel crops.
Specifically, the EPA requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for each of four fuel classifications, cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. The determinations will drive the choice of fuel crops planted.
For all renewable fuels, a 20 percent reduction from current emissions in the manufacture and use of these fuels must be obtained. Advanced bio-fuels and biomass-based diesel must reduce emissions by 50 percent, and cellulosic biofuel emissions by 60 percent.
The agency has determined that ethanol produced from corn starch using natural gas, biomass or biogas for process energy, and using advanced efficient technologies typical of new production facilities will meet the 20 percent emission reduction threshold compared to the 2005 baseline gasoline.
The agency also expects that biodiesel and renewable diesel from soy oil or waste oils, fats and greases will exceed the 50 percent emission reduction threshold for biomass-based diesel compared to the 2005 petroleum diesel baseline.
The agency believes that these thresholds will provide sufficient price signals to the agricultural sector, the solid waste sector and fuel processing and refinery sector to guide decisions on the quantity of crops to plant, bio-waste to collect and fuel to refine to meet the Energy Independence and Security Act's goal of producing 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022.