Proponents of natural gas vehicles (NGV) on Thursday cheered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its increased allocation of volumes of cellulosic biofuel for next year as a boost to the steadily increasing use of renewable natural gas (RNG) in NGVs.

EPA set the RNG-related volume at 590 million ethanol gallon equivalents (EGE) in 2020 after earlier in the year setting the total at 540 million EGE.

Johannes Escudero, CEO of the Coalition for RNG, praised the federal action, saying federal renewable fueling standards (RFS) have “helped spur the remarkable growth” of RNG in the United States. The latest EPA-established volumes would be a 41% increase, Escudero said.

“EPA recognizes the growing importance of RNG as a strategic component to reducing greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions,” said Daniel Gage, president of Washington, DC-based NGVAmerica. “This rule will encourage continued adoption of the cleanest heavy-duty vehicles in the world by commercial fleets of all sizes.”

Although often critical of EPA’s volume allocations in the past, Escudero said he plans to “work constructively” with the federal agency going forward. He thinks there are “further improvements” to be made in the RFS program that should “promote more market stability.”

In its latest action, EPA set what it considers "conventional" renewable fuel, mostly corn-derived ethanol, at billions of EGEs and biomass-based diesel volumes at 2.43 billion gallons for 2020 and 2021. All the volumes are in EGE, except the biodiesel.

This past summer, EPA estimated that RNG would total 525 million EGE, compared to its proposed overall initial draft allocation of 540 million EGE for cellulosic biofuels in 2020.

In November, coalition officials noted that RNG in the transportation sector has grown more than 300% and has accounted for more than 95% of the cellulosic biofuel portion since 2014.