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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 two tables below provide the annual volume and percent standards that have been finalized for 2010 to 2013, and proposed for 2014-2017.

Annual Volume Standards (million gallons)          
  Final Final Final Final Proposed Proposed Proposed Proposed
Biofuel Category 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Cellulosic biofuel 6.5 6.0 0.0 0.8 33 106 206  
Biomass-based diesel 1,150 800 1,000 1,280 1,630 1,700 1,800 1,900
Advanced biofuel 950 1,350 2,000 2,750 2,680 2,900 3,400  
Total renewable fuel 12,950 13,950 15,200 16,550 15,930 16,300 17,400  

Notes: (1) All volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except biomass-based diesel which is actual. (2) EPA has proposed to set the 2011 cellulosic standard at zero. (3) In a January 2013 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the 2012 cellulosic standard. (4) EPA reduced the 2013 cellulosic standard in the Direct Final rule in April 2014. 

Annual Percent Standards           
  Final Final Final Final Proposed Proposed Proposed Proposed
Biofuel Category 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Cellulosic biofuel 0.004% 0.003% 0.006% 0.004% 0.019% 0.059% 0.114%  
Biomass-based diesel 1.10% 0.69% 0.91% 1.13% 1.42% 1.41% 1.49%  
Advanced biofuel 0.61% 0.78% 1.21% 1.62% 1.52% 1.61% 1.88%  
Total renewable fuel 8.25% 8.01% 9.23% 9.74% 9.02% 9.04% 9.63%  

Notes: (1) EPA has proposed to set the 2011 cellulosic standard at zero. (2) In a January 2013 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the 2012 cellulosic standard. (3) EPA reduced the 2013 cellulosic standard in the Direct Final rule in April 2014. 

 

Learn more about RFS regulations and volume standards