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EPA Defers Biogenic Greenhouse Gas Emissions Penalty

EPA Defers Biogenic Greenhouse Gas Emissions Penalty

The U.S.Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) has announcement it is deferring greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting requirements for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from biomass combustion and other biogenic emissions.

“EPA’s deferral of permitting requirements for biogenic emissions sources is good news and it is the right step, given that the science clearly shows using biomass for energy does not add to atmospheric CO2 levels on a net basis,” says Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) President Bob Dinneen. “Failure to exempt biogenic ethanol fermentation emissions from the GHG Tailoring Rule’s permitting requirements would have been unnecessarily costly and burdensome for our industry. Inclusion of biogenic fermentation emissions meant the permitting requirements would have applied to many ethanol plants that otherwise would not have been subjected to requirements. We appreciate EPA’s sensible approach to this complex issue and look forward to working with the agency on a commonsense solution.”

The announcement means biogenic CO2 emissions from ethanol fermentation will not be subject to newly enacted permitting requirements under EPA’s so-called GHG Tailoring Rule for at least three years. Biogenic CO2 emissions that result from the fermentation of corn or other biomass are, by nature, carbon neutral because those emissions are naturally offset when the biomass removes an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere via photosynthesis. Because biomass is carbon neutral, RFA and other stakeholders expressed concern when EPA failed to exempt biogenic emissions from determinations of the applicability of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Permitting Programs under the GHG Tailoring Rule.

The RFA has been intimately engaged in this issue with EPA and state air agencies. Last September, RFA filed comprehensive comments in response to EPA’s “call for information” regarding treatment of biogenic emissions sources under the GHG TailoringRule. 

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