Ethanol industry wants no more delays on RVOs
The Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on Friday on its proposal to extend compliance deadlines for renewable volume obligations from 2019 to 2021. Biofuels groups continue to call on the EPA to end the delays and release renewable volume obligations as required by the renewable fuels standard. .
Also speaking on Friday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told agriculture reporters he anticipated actions by the Biden administration on biofuels to create more stability than the previous administration. Vilsack says he worked closely with EPA administrator Michael Regan to reinforce the importance of the EPA in taking action regarding the RFS to provide the much desired stability.
“The administrator has indicated that he will not grant the waivers in the same way the Trump administration has granted them, which has created instability in the program,” Vilsack said of the nearly 80 requests for waivers granted under the Trump administration that undermined the RVO established in those years.
On November 18, the EPA announced a proposal to extend the RVO compliance deadlines for 2019 and 2020, as well as the 2021 RVO that has yet to be proposed. The EPA proposed to establish general deadlines for extended compliance deadlines without giving specific dates. In addition, the EPA has proposed to change the way future compliance deadlines are determined. The RVO 2019 compliance deadline for small refineries has been set for November 30, 2021, and the RVO 2020 compliance deadline for all obligated parties is currently set for January 31, 2022.
The EPA contends that extensions to the compliance deadline are necessary because dozens of small refinery exemption requests for 2019 and 2020 have yet to be decided and proposed standards for 2021 have yet to be released.
“The EPA has had ample time to rule on the pending 2019 and 2020 SRE petitions following the June 2021 Supreme Court ruling in HollyFrontier v. RFA, which left intact two important elements of the January 2020 decision of the Tenth Circuit Court in the RFA v. EPA, ”said Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, in a prepared testimony. “We strongly encourage the EPA to immediately adjudicate the remaining 2019 and 2020 SRE applications in a manner consistent with final decisions of the Tenth Circuit decision. And immediately after deciding on these petitions, the EPA should demand that the final 2019 and 2020 standards be met. ”
Growth Energy senior vice president of regulatory affairs Chris Bliley said that instead of delaying RVOs, the EPA should take immediate action to restore the integrity of the RFS, restore lost biofuel demand and ” remove remaining barriers to E15 and higher biofuel blends ”.
“The intention of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our country’s transportation fuel supply. Period, ”says Bliley. “This is not about rewarding oil companies for filing lawsuits to prevent higher blends and then demanding that the agency delay compliance further.”
American Coalition for Ethanol Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty said that if the EPA finalized the 2021 RVOs on time last November and predicted that gas volumes would return to 2019 levels, the percentage of 2021 would have assured refiners that their renewable fuel requirements would drop or increase again as oil volumes have remained stable or increased.
Instead, the reason the EPA must propose to delay compliance reporting and attestation commitments for 2021 and 2022 is the EPA’s own failure to establish annual renewable energy volume obligations. when they are supposed to be established, “says Lamberty’s testimony.
Vilsack promises RFS stability
Vilsack says that during the Trump administration, when past RVO levels were announced, waivers for small refineries “are essentially less” than amounts set in volume mandates.
Vilsack says he anticipates in the “very near future” that the EPA will announce RVO levels, and at the same time also meet outstanding waiver requirements in a way that maintains the stability of the RFS program.
“We look forward to when these announcements are made so that we can also provide more details on the distribution of the $ 700 million in aid and aid that we have already identified and allocated to biofuels,” Vilsack said of COVID relief funding pending final office management and budget approval that was allocated by Congress at the end of 2020 and some additional USDA pandemic assistance in 2021 .
Vilsack also announced funding of just over $ 3 million on Friday through the Superior Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to applicants from more than nine states to access higher blends of biofuels. In addition, this administration will invest $ 4.3 billion in a series of grants and loans to support the creation of alternative biofuels for the aviation industry.
“It is an administration that understands that we must continue to seek innovative solutions for the climate and innovative solutions to reduce fuel costs,” said Vilsack.