Most biofuels stakeholder organizations expressed disappointment in the final rule for required renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2019, and biomass-based diesel for 2020, released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday.
The rule maintains the 2019 conventional biofuels (corn ethanol) level at 15 billion gallons, while biomass-based diesel, advanced, and cellulosic categories all were increased slightly. However, the main disappointment comes from the agency declining to take any action on reallocating Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) to make up for small refinery hardship exemptions granted by EPA.
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says they are pleased to see the final numbers were released on time by the November 30 deadline. “But the latest EPA rule is also a missed opportunity to correctly account for billions of gallons of ethanol lost to refinery exemptions,” said Skor. “Until these are addressed properly, we’re still taking two steps back for every step forward.”
Listen to or download Skor’s reaction here: EPA RVO final reaction from Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper is hopeful that means EPA is not intending to issue any small refiner waivers at all in 2019. “We urge Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to faithfully and strictly enforce the 15-billion-gallon conventional renewable fuel requirement in 2019, rather than allowing the standard to be eroded through the use of clandestine small refiner waivers as former Administrator Pruitt did,” said Cooper.
Audio with Cooper here: EPA RVO final reaction from RFA CEO Geoff Cooper
American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings says not compensating for the gallons lost is causing real economic hardship for rural communities. “On paper, EPA appears to be resisting refiner demands to reduce conventional biofuel blending in 2019 below the statutory 15-billion-gallon level. However, in reality, as long as EPA fails to reallocate the over 2 billion gallons worth of blending obligations waived for ‘Small Refineries,’ renewable fuel demand will remain flat causing farmers and rural biofuel producers to continue suffering the consequences.”
Listen to Jennings’ comments here: EPA RVO final reaction from ACE CEO Brian Jennings
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) criticized EPA for continuing to set the advanced biofuel and biomass-based diesel volumes lower than what the agency acknowledges will be produced. “The industry regularly fills 90 percent of the annual advanced biofuel requirement. Nevertheless, the agency continues to use its maximum waiver authority to set advanced biofuel requirements below attainable levels,” said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. “The method is inconsistent with the RFS program’s purpose, which is to drive growth in production and use of advanced biofuels such as biodiesel.”
Listen to Donnell’s comments here: EPA RVO final reaction from NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen