Renewable Natural Gas Increasingly Used to Meet Part of EPA’s Renewable Fuel Requirements

By Steve Hanson, U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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Renewable natural gas (RNG), which is derived from biogas collected at landfills and other facilities, is increasingly used to meet government targets for renewable fuel production. In 2016, about 189 million gallons of RNG were used to meet about 82% of federal targets set specifically for cellulosic biofuel. 

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a program implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) to promote the incorporation of biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply. Earlier this year, EPA released a proposed rule to determine 2018 renewable volume obligations, and total volumes will remain largely unchanged from 2017 levels. Volume obligations for two categories—advanced biofuel and cellulosic biofuel—were slightly reduced from 2017 levels. 

In previous years, when targets for those categories were not met, EPA has exercised its cellulosic biofuel waiver authority to account for shortfalls. In 2016, for instance, only 189 million gallons of cellulosic fuel were produced, less than EPA’s renewable fuel volume requirement of 230 million gallons and far below the original congressional volume target of 4.25 billion gallons for that year.