EPA publishes final rule for grain sorghum fuel pathways

By Erin Voegele | December 04, 2012

The U.S. EPA has announced that grain sorghum ethanol now qualifies as a renewable fuel under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program. On Nov. 30, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed a final rule to supplement the RFS, creating new fuel pathways for grain sorghum ethanol. The new rule contains a lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis for ethanol made from grain sorghum, as well as a regulatory determination that ethanol made from the feedstock qualifies as renewable fuel—and in some cases an advanced biofuel—under the RFS. The rule becomes effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

According to the EPA, its analysis determined that when grain sorghum ethanol at produced as dry mill facilities fired with natural gas, the 20 percent GHG emissions threshold for renewable fuel is met, qualifying it for RFS compliance use. In cases where grain sorghum ethanol is produced at dry mill facilities that use specified forms of biogas for process energy and most electrical production, the resulting fuel achieves GHG reductions of more than 50 percent, qualifying the ethanol as an advanced biofuel for RFS compliance purposes.

The proposed rule was originally released by the EPA in May.In June, a notice of data availability concerning renewable fuels produced from grain sorghum was published in the Federal Register. The public comment period on the rule closed in July.  

The Sorghum Checkoff has spoken out in support of the new pathways. “This is a significant step forward for the sorghum industry,” said Bill Kubecka, Sorghum Checkoff chairman and a producer from Palacios, Texas. “This pathway for grain sorghum will make sorghum a more profitable biofuel feedstock for the renewables industry, thus increasing the value and demand for sorghum.”

“We believe this new opportunity to produce advanced biofuel will increase demand for the crop and lead to greater profitability for producers across the nation,” said John Duff, Sorghum Checkoff renewables director. “Furthermore, it gives us great pride that these producers will play a key role in supplying homegrown advanced biofuel, and we look forward to supporting them in these efforts going forward.”

A full copy of the final rule can be downloaded from the EPA website.