Ag News

EPA, USDA announce actions to promote biofuels

On Oct. 4, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced actions intended mitigate the impact of 31 waivers granted earlier this year to oil refineries from requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Corn growers opposed the waivers, contending that they would result in diminished demand for corn-based ethanol.

According to a joint press release, the following actions will be undertaken by the EPA and USDA:

• In a forthcoming supplemental notice building off the recently proposed 2020 Renewable Volume Standards and the Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2021, EPA will propose and request public comment on expanding biofuel requirements beginning in 2020;

• The EPA will seek comment on actions to ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning in 2020, and that the volume obligation for biomass-based diesel is met. This will include accounting for relief expected to be provided for small refineries;

• The EPA intends to take final action on this front later this year;

• The EPA will initiate a rulemaking process to streamline labeling and remove other barriers to the sale of E15;

• The EPA will continue to evaluate options for renewable identification number (RIN) market transparency and reform;

• The USDA will seek opportunities through the budget process to consider infrastructure projects to facilitate higher biofuel blends;

• The Trump administration will continue to work to address ethanol and biodiesel trade issues.

Congress passed the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said the actions promote increased ethanol use in vehicles and will encourage “increased biofuel infrastructure through the federal budget process.”

The RFS was authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In addition to the goals of increasing production of home-grown renewable fuels, the program supports domestic demand for farm commodities, increases farm income, and creates rural jobs.