EPA finalizes renewable fuels standard volumes for 2020
On Dec. 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that establishes the required renewable volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2020, and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2021.
While the EPA indicated the rule would keep renewable fuel volumes in line with statutory standards, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Kevin Ross criticized how the rule calculates volumes to determine small refinery waivers.
The NGCA noted that the final rule uses a three-year average of the Department of Energy (DOE) recommended waivers as an estimate for 2020 waivers rather than an average of actual gallons waived by the EPA.
“The Administration has chosen to move forward with a final rule that corn farmers believe falls short of adequately addressing the demand destruction caused by EPA’s abuse of RFS refinery waivers,” Ross said. “While using the DOE recommendations to account for waivers is an improvement over the status quo, it is now on corn farmers to hold the [Trump] administration to their commitment of a minimum of 15 billion-gallon volume, as the law requires. We will use future rulemakings and other opportunities to hold the EPA accountable.”
Peterson said the EPA rule doesn’t achieve the mandated volumes.
“We’re seeing a final rule out of EPA that doesn’t guarantee the 15 billion gallons the RFS mandates,” Peterson said. “At a time when our agriculture economy is struggling, the EPA has ripped 4 billion gallons of ethanol out of the market and impacted corn prices and rural communities. We also have yet to see the other things that were promised to the biofuels industry and corn farmers to get more ethanol into the market via infrastructure incentives and policies related to higher ethanol blends.”
According to the EPA, the key elements of the rules are:
“Conventional” biofuel volumes, primarily met by corn ethanol, will be maintained at the 15 billion-gallon target set by Congress for 2020.
Cellulosic biofuel volumes for 2020, and thus advanced biofuel volumes, will increase by almost 170 million gallons over the 2019 standard.
Biomass-based diesel volumes for 2021 will be equivalent to the standard for 2020, still more than double the statutory requirement.
EPA will closely examine the labeling requirements for E15 fuel and move forward with clarifying regulations as needed.
EPA has modified the way RFS obligations are determined to better ensure that these volumes are met, while still allowing for relief for small refineries consistent with the direction provided by Congress under the statute. The EPA indicated that proposing effectively 15. 8 billion gallons would net 15 billion gallons.
The EPA’s summary of the final rule can be found here.