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Renewable Fuel Standard Program

Renewable Fuel Annual Standards

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set the RFS volume requirements annually. The annual standards are based on the statutory targets. EISA requires EPA to evaluate and in some cases adjust the standards.

EPA establishes the standards through a notice-and-comment rulemaking process with opportunity for public comment and stakeholder engagement.

  • The Clean Air Act requires the standards be finalized by November 30th of the year preceding the compliance year.
  • For the cellulosic standard, EPA sets cellulosic standard based on EIA projections, EPA’s own market assessment, and on information obtained from the notice and comment process.
  • For the biomass-based diesel standard, EPA must determine the applicable volume of biomass-based diesel at least 14 months prior to the year in which the volume will be required. 

EISA’s four renewable fuel standards are nested within each other. This means, the fuel with a higher GHG reduction threshold can be used to meet the standards for a lower GHG reduction threshold. For example, fuels or RINs for advanced biofuel (i.e., cellulosic, biodiesel or sugarcane ethanol) can be used to meet the total renewable fuel standards (i.e., corn ethanol).

This diagram explains the nesting scheme for the four D-codes within RFS: Conventional renewable fuel (D6), Advanced biofuel (D5), Cellulosic biofuel (D3), and Biomass-based diesel (D4).

The table below provides the annual volume standards that have been finalized for 2010 to 2018 (and the final biomass-based diesel volume for 2019), and proposed for 2019 (and the proposed biomass-based diesel volume for 2020).

Annual Volume Standards (billion gallons)1
  Final Final Final Final Final Final Final Final Final Final Final
Biofuel Category 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Cellulosic biofuel 6.5 0.02 0.03 0.84 33 123 230 311 288 418 N/A
Biomass-based diesel 1.15 0.8 1.0 1.28 1.63 1.73 1.9 2.0 2.1 2.15 2.43
Advanced biofuel 0.95 1.35 2.0 2.75 2.67 2.88 3.61 4.28 4.29 4.92 N/A
Total renewable fuel 12.95 13.95 15.2 16.55 16.28 16.93 18.11 19.28 19.29 19.92 N/A

(1) All volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except biomass-based diesel which is in gallons of biodiesel.
(2), (3) In a January 2013 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the 2012 cellulosic standard; the 2011 standard was also reset to 0.0, as the same methodology was used for both 2011 and 2012.
(4) EPA reduced the 2013 cellulosic standard via Direct Final Rule (79 FR 25025, May 2, 2014).
(5) The biomass-based diesel standard for 2019 was set at 2.1 billion gallons in the RFS 2018 Final Rule (82 FR 58486, December 12, 2017).

Learn more about RFS regulations and volume standards