NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Wednesday announced finalized targets for biofuel use for next year, requiring that energy companies blend 19.28 billion gallons of renewables into the nation's fuel supply.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a statement set the target for conventional biofuel, or ethanol, at 15 billion gallons and the advanced biofuel target at 4.28 billion gallons for 2017.
The agency set the mandate for biomass-based diesel at 2.1 billion gallons for 2018.
That compares with the total 18.8 billion gallons the Environmental Protection Agency proposed in May and would be up 6 percent from this year's 18.11 billion gallons.
The EPA is required to set targets by the Renewable Fuel Standard, with annual mandates for how much ethanol and biodiesel need to be blended with gasoline and diesel. The program, signed into law by President George W. Bush, was designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy independence and boost rural economies.
The increase to 15 billion gallons for the conventional biofuels target marked a victory for the U.S. ethanol industry, after years of battling regulators to increase the mandates to levels laid out by Congress in 2007. President Barack Obama's administration pulled back on the targets in recent years due to what it saw as marketplace challenges.
(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Dave Gregorio and Meredith Mazzilli)