As Canada investigates developing its own clean fuel standard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they would be maintaining—or even potentially increasing—the current renewable fuel mandates. Those stories and more in your weekly biofuel news roundup!

EPA walks back biofuels mandate changes

The EPA is backing off from changes it floated to biofuels policy after significant pushback from Midwestern GOP senators and a direct intervention from President Trump.

In a letter to seven senators, EPA head Scott Pruitt pledged that he would not move forward with various ideas regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), including lowering the biodiesel mandate and allowing ethanol exports to count toward the mandate.

“EPA has not taken any formal action to propose this idea, nor will EPA pursue regulations,” Pruitt wrote about the export idea in a letter sent to senators.

Allowing exports to count toward obligations would have effectively lowered the amount of ethanol produced.

The commitment to certain regulatory outcomes — which is highly unusual in the regulatory process — came as senators raised the possibility of blocking Senate confirmation of certain senior EPA officials to protest the potential changes to the biofuels standard.

Read more at The Hill.

Scientists study pandas and beavers to inform better biofuel production

Canadian scientists are looking at how pandas digest bamboo to better understand the fungi and microbes that help them digest the branches and twigs. This builds on another recent study about how beavers digest trees and how the enzymes in their gut help break down the material to get nutrients.

The hope is that the digestion and microbiomes of beavers and pandas can help researchers apply that knowledge to ruminant digestion and help with biofuel production from plant cellulose.

Wen Chen, a research scientist in Ottawa, told Western Producer, “What we’re seeing in the lab is really exciting. Imagine the possibilities that exist in reducing our reliance on petrochemicals by improving the way we make biofuel.”

Get more on this research at Biofuels Digest.

Canada to develop new clean fuel standard

The Canadian government is looking into the potential for low-carbon fuels as it develops a new clean fuel standard that some say could do more to cut emissions than a carbon tax.

Natural Resources Canada has recently issued two new tenders, one looking for research on the ability of mining, oil and gas, forestry and other industries to switch to alternative fuels. The department is also looking for a study of liquid drop-in biofuels that could replace diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

As part of its pan-Canadian climate change framework, the federal government has promised to create a clean fuel standard that could require a 10-15% reduction in the carbon intensity of fuels used in transportation, homes and industry. The measure is intended to cut carbon emissions by 30 million tons annually by 2030 — the equivalent of taking about seven million cars off the road.

“Biofuels will likely play a role in helping to meet this target, notably in the transportation sector,” reads one of the procurement documents. “Renewable drop-in fuels appear to be a promising option for short-term biofuels development and deployment.”

Learn more at the National Post.


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Geoff Hayward

Communications Advisor at Novozymes
Geoff writes about Bioenergy for the Communications team at Novozymes. When he isn’t advocating for an industry that’s changing the world for the better, he can be found on a North Carolina bike path or playing slide guitar.