EPA proposes Renewable Fuels Standard; biofuel firms get excited

The U.S. EPA proposed renewable-fuel rules yesterday to comply with the 2005 energy bill, which requires that U.S. biofuel production nearly double by 2012. The suggested Renewable Fuels Standard (which will be open to public comment) would require that 3.71 percent of all U.S. gasoline sold next year be biofuels, up from 2.78 percent this year. It would also put in place a credit-trading system among refiners, importers, and blenders. According to the EPA, the program would reduce U.S. petroleum consumption by 3.9 billion gallons a year and greenhouse-gas emissions by 14 million tons a year, at a cost of one to three extra cents per gallon of gasoline. In preparation for the biofuel boom (or, at least, bump), biotechnology companies are busy creating fuel-happy crops — for instance, corn bred with an enzyme that otherwise would have to be added for ethanol production.