Fuels and Fuel Additives
Fuel Pathway Petitions: Overview
Please send your questions about feedstocks for the production of biofuels to firstname.lastname@example.org
- On the RFS reporting page there are forms and instructions for reporting.
For the final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) rule, EPA assessed the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of multiple renewable fuel pathways. Assessment of lifecycle GHG emissions is necessary to determine which fuel pathways meet the GHG reduction thresholds under RFS2 for the four required renewable fuel categories. Classifications of approved fuel pathways are specified in Table 1 to 80.1426(f) of the RFS2 regulations.
Within the table, three critical components of a fuel pathway are listed: (1) fuel type, (2) feedstock, and (3) production process. Each specific combination of the three components, or fuel pathway, is assigned a RIN D code designating the renewable fuel category (renewable fuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, cellulosic biofuel) for which it qualifies. For example, biodiesel is assigned a RIN D Code of 4, which qualifies the fuel for compliance with the biomass-based diesel category.
In addition, EPA recognized during the rulemaking that there would new pathways requiring assessment in the future. Therefore, we provided 80.1416 in the RFS2 regulations, "Petition process for evaluation of new renewable fuels pathways." This mechanism allows parties to request that EPA conduct a lifecycle GHG assessment for a new fuel pathway and provide a determination of the D code for which the new pathway may be eligible.
Prior to petitioning EPA for a new pathway, renewable fuel producers and importers must first ensure they meet the other requirements of the RFS2 program. Upon receipt of a new fuel pathway evaluation request, EPA will evaluate the following preliminary requirements prior to proceeding with a lifecycle GHG analysis:
- Does the petition include all of the required information, as outlined in 40 CFR §80.1416(b)(1)?
- Do the feedstock and fuel meet the RFS2 definitional requirements in 80.1401 for renewable biomass and renewable fuel?
- If so, does the pathway fit under an existing approved pathway, based on an interpretation of the regulatory definitions of the pathway?
If the fuel pathway does not fit within an existing pathway, then a lifecycle GHG analysis of the new pathway must be conducted in order to determine if the pathway meets the lifecycle GHG reduction threshold for one or more of the renewable fuel categories.
Two approval processes are then possible, depending upon the extent of lifecycle GHG modeling required. If the pathway is significantly different from existing approved pathways, then a full lifecycle GHG analysis must be conducted and, if the pathway meets one or more of the RFS2 compliance thresholds, approved through an official rulemaking process in order to provide for notice and comment. Examples of this type of pathway request include those with new feedstocks that require agricultural or feedstock production modeling.
If the request does not require a significant amount of new modeling beyond what was modeled under the RFS2 final rule, then the second approval process allows the Agency to make a determination without a new rulemaking process. An example of this type of pathway request is one with a different production process, but using previously approved feedstocks.
Under both of these approval processes, EPA will conduct the required lifecycle GHG analyses in a manner consistent with the definition of lifecycle emissions and threshold evaluation requirements under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).
Upon determination of the type of approval process needed, EPA will notify the petitioner of the status of their request and an estimated timeframe for completion. In general, requests will first be completed for pathways that are closest to commercial production. In general, EPA will give priority to requests for new pathways that have the potential to qualify as advanced or cellulosic biofuels. Requests that require significant new modeling will generally require longer review times, while those with a partial analysis may require less time.
In addition to an approved pathway request, fuel producers and importers must meet registration requirements in 80.1450, reporting requirements in 80.1451, and recordkeeping requirements in 80.1454 to participate in the RFS2 program.
If you have questions or request information, please contact the appropriate support or help line found on the Support & Help page.
Please visit EPA's Transportation and Air Quality web-based repository of mobile source documents, Document Index System (DIS). This searchable repository contains regulations, Federal Register notices, policy letters, and guidance documents.
Please visit our Related Links page for other fuel related information within EPA, other U.S. Agencies, and other fuel related websites.