This month, the EPA announced that it is improving the petition process for obtaining approval of new renewable fuel pathways.  When the initial pathways were approved, there was recognition that a process must be in place to evaluate improvements in existing processes and entirely new pathways.  The Renewable Fuel Standard regulations specify the existing approved pathways and provide a process, submitting a petition, for obtaining approval for new pathways.  The details of the improved petition process have not yet been publicized and the EPA suggests that parties consider delaying any new submissions until the revised process is announced, which the EPA expects will be in approximately six months.  New submissions prior to release of the new improved process may be required to be resubmitted.

Two of the expected elements of the improved process are:

  • Improved guidance for petitioners that includes step-by-step instructions and templates for the different types of applications; and
  • A more automated review process for petitions using well known production technologies and previously approved feedstocks.

While the EPA works on the improvements for the next six months, it will continue to review pending high priority petitions and petitions for which substantial modeling has already been done.  Petitions will be evaluated according to:

  •  Ability to contribute to the cellulosic biofuel mandate;
  • Potential to reduce greenhouse gasses on a per gallon basis; and
  • Ability to increase usage of renewable fuels in the short term (e.g., drop-in fuels).

Petitions that are even on the these criteria will be further prioritized based on closeness to commercialization and date of submission.

The EPA is accepting suggestions on how to improve the petition process.  Parties who want to make a submission can do so by emailing the EPA Fuels Programs Support Line at support@epamts-support.com with “Petition Process Input” as the subject line.