US raises standards on biofuels

Petrol pumps in the US will be pumping out more biofuel this year after the country's environmental watchdog beefed up regulations on renewable fuels.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is raising the 2008 Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which determines how much non-petroleum fuel must be blended with fuels sold on the forecourt.

The RFS will be increased from the 4.66% announced in November to 7.76 to comply with the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed by President George Bush in December.

It requires at least 9bn gallons of renewable fuel to be used in the US this year, rising annually to 36bn gallons by 2022.

It is estimated that planned annual RFS increases will save 13.1m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year by 2012 – the equivalent of taking 2.3m cars off the road.

EPA bosses said the increased use of ethanol, which receives a tax credit, may also reduce the cost of petrol at the pumps by between 0.4 and 0.7 cents.

Greg Krissek, director of Government Affairs at ethanol ICM Inc, and a spokesperson for the Renewable Fuels Now Coalition, told edie: “The Energy Independence and Security Act represents a significant milestone in our nation’s drive for a secure energy future.

“An energy policy that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels is critical. We stand ready to meet these goals.”

The increasing use of biofuels has attracted international criticism in recent months, being blamed for a host of problems from rising food prices to destruction of land to grow crops.

Mr Krissek said in the US, the biofuel drive is expected to boost the efficient use of agricultural land, while other issues, such as rising petrol prices, all played a role in increasing food prices.

He added: “The ethanol industry is poised to help meet America’s growing energy need while ensuring that we are good stewards of the environment and continuing to help improve rural America’s economic health.”

Kate Martin

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