The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a rule determining that grain sorghum ethanol qualifies as a renewable fuel under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program. Such fuel, when produced at dry-mill facilities using natural gas, reduces the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 20 percent compared to petroleum fuel and is therefore a renewable biofuel.

EPA also determined that where the facility uses “specified forms of biogas for both process energy and most electricity production,” the resulting sorghum-derived fuel reduces lifecycle GHG emissions by more than 50 percent compared to petroleum fuel, making it an “advanced biofuel.” By comparison, depending on processes, cellulosic biofuel can reach lifecycle GHG emission reductions of 72-130 percent, while corn-based “conventional” biofuel, taking into account a penalty for indirect land-use change, achieves a 21-percent reduction. Without the penalty, corn-derived biofuel achieves about a 73-percent reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions.

Under the RFS program, in 2012, renewable biofuel is scheduled to constitute 13.8 percent of gasoline, advanced biofuel is scheduled to constitute 2.75 percent of gasoline, and cellulosic biofuel is scheduled to constitute 1 percent of gasoline. By 2022, those percentages are 15-percent renewable biofuel, 21-percent advanced biofuel and 16-percent cellulosic biofuel.