EPA to open comment period on pennycress oil GHG analysis

By Erin Voegele | March 17, 2015

The U.S. EPA has published a notice on its website inviting comment on an analysis of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributable to the production and transport of pennycress oil for use in biofuel production, including biodiesel, renewable diesel, and jet fuel.

The notice explains EPA’s analysis of the production and transportation components of the lifecycle GHG emission of biofuel made from pennycress oil and describes how EPA may apply this analysis in the future to determine whether biofuels produced from pennycress oil meet the necessary GHG reductions required for qualification as renewable fuel under the renewable fuel standard (RFS). According to the EPA, its analysis indicates biofuels produced using the feedstock could qualify as biomass-based diesel or advanced biofuel if typical fuel production process technologies are used.

Within the notice, the EPA states that its analysis relates to a petition received from Arvens Technology Inc. The EPA also notes that in performing the requested analysis, it used a similar approach to that used for camelina oil in a rule published in March 2013. “In that rulemaking, EPA determined that several renewable fuel pathways using camelina oil feedstock meet the required 50 percent lifecycle GHG reduction threshold under the RFS for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuel because the GHG emissions performance of camelina-based fuels is at least as good as that modeled for fuels made from soybean oil,” the EPA said in the notice. Using a similar approach, the EPA looked at every component of the agricultural sector GHG emissions from pennycress oil production, including land use change, crop inputs, crushing and oil extraction, and feedstock distribution. The agency said it believes each component results in GHG emissions that are less than or equal to the emission from the corresponding component of soybean oil production.

A 30-day public comment period on the analysis will be opened once the notice is published in the Federal Register. A full copy of the notice can be downloaded from the EPA website.