Biobased and Renewable Products News: RFS

January 5, 2018
EPA Proposes New Fuel Pathways Under RFS Program
On December 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve new fuel pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  Specifically, EPA is proposing to amend RFS regulations to define the term “distillers sorghum oil” and to add approved pathways from the production of biodiesel and heating oil from distillers sorghum oil via a transesterification process, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from distillers sorghum oil via a hydrotreating process.  Distillers sorghum oil ... read more >
December 22, 2017
EPA Publishes Final 2018 RFS Requirements
On December 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program:  Standards for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019 final rule.  This final rule sets the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2018, as well as biomass-based diesel for 2019.  As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post EPA Issues Final 2018 RFS Requirements, the ... read more >
December 15, 2017
EPA Seeks Comment On ICR On RFS Program
On December 8, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice in the Federal Register regarding its plans to submit an information collection request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on recordkeeping and reporting for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  The notices states that the ICR aims to streamline and update estimates related to the RFS program and consolidate all RFS estimates into one, consistent, and easy-to-understand format.   EPA is seeking public comment and information to enable it to:  Evaluate whether the ... read more >
December 15, 2017
Weekly Roundup of Other Biobased News
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, “Barrasso Calls on EPA to Study the Renewable Fuel Standard’s Impact on the Environment” Reuters, “Trump Plans to Meet Oil Industry Reps on U.S. Biofuel Policy: Sources” Genome Canada, “Genomics Researchers Partner with Industry to Further Innovation in Health, Agriculture and Environment Sectors” Chemical & Engineering News, “Tapping Sewage as a Source of Useful ... read more >
December 8, 2017
EPA Issues Final 2018 RFS Requirements
On November 30, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final 2018 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel.  A pre-publication of the final rule is available now.  The final rule sets the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2018, as well as biomass-based diesel for 2019.  The proposed volume requirements ... read more >
December 1, 2017
EPA Denies Industry Request To Shift Point Of Obligation
On November 30, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing its decision to deny several petitions requesting that EPA initiate a rulemaking to change the point of obligation for compliance under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  Under the RFS program, refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel fuel are identified as “obligated parties” responsible for compliance with the RFS annual standards.  In 2016, EPA received several petitions requesting a revision of the definition of “obligated ... read more >
November 17, 2017
EPA Close To Issuing In Final 2018 And 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard Volumes
On October 31, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent its final rule to set the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2018 and 2019 to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.  Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA must issue a final rule to set standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel by November 30, 2017.  Typically, OMB review is the last step before the final rule is published in the Federal Register and takes 30 days. Timely issuance of the final volume requirements is critical for ... read more >
November 3, 2017
EPA Sends Letter To Senators Addressing RFS Issues
On October 19, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter to Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Thune (R-SD), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) to confirm his commitment to support the spirit and the letter of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  In the letter, Pruitt stated that, following a detailed analysis, numerous stakeholder meetings, and review of public comments, it was determined that EPA would not grant the petition to move the point of obligation to ... read more >
October 6, 2017
Iowa Senators Respond To EPA NODA Regarding RFS Program
Last week, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) responded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Notice of Data Availability (NODA) regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume requirements (see EPA Issues NODA Regarding RFS Program).  On September 27, 2017, Ernst sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern over the proposed reduction in the volume requirements for 2018 and 2019.  In the letter, Ernst highlights the importance of renewable fuel with regard to jobs in rural America, and energy security for the U.S. Additionally, the ... read more >
October 6, 2017
EPA Issues NODA Regarding RFS Program
On October 4, 2017, EPA issued a NODA in the Federal Register to provide supplemental information and an opportunity for further public comment on potential reductions in the 2018 biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel volumes, and/or the 2019 biomass-based diesel volume under the RFS program.  The NODA follows the Agency’s July 21, 2017, proposed rulemaking on the volume requirements and provides additional information on production, imports, and cost of renewable fuel, and several options for how EPA may consider such data in establishing the final ... read more >
October 6, 2017
Weekly Roundup of Other Biobased News
Senator Rounds, “Rounds Asks EPA Administrator for Continued Support of Renewable Fuel Standard” DOE Joint Genome Institute, “2018 DOE JGI Community Science Program Allocations Announced” Brookhaven National Laboratory, “With Extra Sugar, Leaves Get Fat Too -- Scientists Tip Balance of Plant Metabolism to Increase Oil Content in Leaves with Aim of Making Biofuels and Related Useful Chemicals” Cornell Chronicle, “Bioreactors on a Chip Renew Promises for Algal ... read more >
September 22, 2017
Pruitt Responds To Senators’ Request For Details On Icahn’s Advisory Role
On September 11, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in response to the request by Senator Whitehouse and four other Democratic Senators to explain Carl Icahn’s role in shaping the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  According to Pruitt, Icahn did not exercise excessive influence on the U.S. biofuels policy while acting as an advisor of President Trump.  The letter states that Icahn was one of many advisors that Trump met with during his confirmation and no assurances were made ... read more >
September 8, 2017
EPA Waives RFS Requirements For States Affected By Hurricane Harvey
On August 31, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that requirements for reformulated gasoline and low volatility gasoline would be waived through September 15, 2017, for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia.  EPA exercised its emergency fuel waiver authority to help ensure an adequate supply of fuel throughout the South, Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  As required by law, EPA and the Department of ... read more >
August 25, 2017
Appellate Court Rules EPA RFS Exemption Criteria Too Strict
On August 15, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled two to one that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its statutory authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) when it denied Sinclair Oil Corporation’s request for a hardship exemption from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  The statute requires that EPA grant exemptions on a case-by-case basis to small refiners that would suffer a “disproportionate economic hardship” in complying with the RFS program.  According to the court ruling, EPA’s interpretation that ... read more >
August 25, 2017
New Iowa State Study Shows Benefits Of RFS Program
In a paper forthcoming in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Iowa State researchers demonstrate that their tractable multi-market equilibrium model designed to evaluate alternative biofuel policies confirms that the current RFS program benefits the agriculture sector, and leads to overall welfare gains for the U.S.  The model considers biodiesel and ethanol markets and is simulated to analyze alternative scenarios, including the repeal of all RFS mandates, the 2015 level of mandates, and the projected 2022 RFS mandates.  The analysis shows that the U.S. benefited from ... read more >
August 18, 2017
Biofuel Industry Testifies At EPA Hearing On RFS Program
On August 1, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public hearing to hear from all segments of the fuel industry on the proposed rule to set the 2018 renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  Among the nearly 150 individuals and organizations scheduled to testify at the hearing were numerous biofuel industry stakeholders who praised EPA for issuing the proposed rule on time and for maintaining the statutory 15 billion gallon volume requirement for conventional renewable fuels, but urged the agency to increase the proposed ... read more >
July 28, 2017
EPA Publishes Proposed 2018 RFS Requirements
On July 18, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its proposed rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program:  Standards for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019.  The rulemaking proposes the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2018, as well as biomass-based diesel in 2019, as reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group’s (BRAG®) blog post EPA Releases Proposed 2018 RFS ... read more >
July 21, 2017
EPA Announces Public Hearing On RFS Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard [RFS] Program: Standards for 2018 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019 proposed rule.  The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. on August 1, 2017, and will provide an opportunity for EPA to gather data, views, and arguments on the proposed rulemaking from interested stakeholders.  While EPA does not plan to respond to presentations, the Agency may ask clarifying questions.  EPA intends to use the information to inform a future rulemaking to reset the statutory volumes ... read more >
July 21, 2017
EIA Issues Short-Term Energy Outlook Report
On July 11, 2017, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) issued its June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).  EIA considered EPA’s recent rulemakings on the 2017 RFS volume requirements and proposed 2018 RFS volume requirements when developing its STEO for 2017 and 2018.    Biodiesel production averaged 101,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2016, and, according to EIA, is expected to increase to an average of 105,000 b/d in 2017 and to 109,000 b/d in 2018.  Biomass-based diesel imports are expected to fall from 54,000 b/d in 2016 to 53,000 b/d in 2017 but rise to ... read more >
July 14, 2017
EPA Releases Proposed 2018 RFS Volume Requirements
On July 5, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for 2018, as well as biomass-based diesel for 2019.  The proposal lowers the blending requirement for all renewable fuel with the exception of biomass-based diesel, which maintains the 2017 blending requirement.  The proposed volume requirements are: Cellulosic biofuel, from 311 million gallons in 2017 to 238 million gallons in 2018; Advanced biofuel, from 4.28 billion ... read more >
May 5, 2017
Judges Hear Oral Arguments On The Petition To Review RVO For 2014-2016
On April 24, 2017, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the renewable fuels and petroleum industries presented oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit regarding the petition to review the renewable volume obligations (RVO) for 2014-2016.  The petition, which was filed on January 8, 2016, by seven biofuel and agricultural groups, challenged EPA’s authority to set volume requirements for biofuel blending below standards put forth in the 2007 Renewable Fuel ... read more >
March 31, 2017
Senators Send Trump Letter On RFS Point Of Obligation
On March 16, 2017, 23 Senators, including Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), sent President Trump a bipartisan letter requesting that he maintain the point of obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  In the letter, the Senators remind Trump that the RFS program was adopted to provide stability for renewable fuel producers and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that, to meet this goal, the point of obligation should be placed on refiners and importers.  Shifting the point of obligation downstream would ... read more >
March 31, 2017
EPA Implements 2017 RFS Volume Requirements
On March 21, 2017, the renewable fuel volume requirements for 2017, which were issued in final by EPA on December 12, 2016, were implemented.  The effective date for the 2017 requirements was delayed following the Presidential directive to postpone the implementation of new regulations to allow for review by the new administration.  Although EPA has yet to publish an announcement on the matter, industry stakeholders have welcomed the 2017 biofuel volumes and 2018 biomass-based diesel volumes.  As reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog ... read more >
March 24, 2017
National Farmers Union Passes Resolution On Higher Blended Fuels
On March 13, 2017, the South Dakota Farmers Union announced that the National Farmers Union had passed a resolution calling for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to open the market to higher blends of ethanol during its annual meeting in San Diego.  The resolution, which was brought forward by the South Dakota Farmers Union delegation, promotes the use of higher blended fuels, such as E30, as a way to expand the retail fuels infrastructure and support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).   In addition to passing the resolution, the National Farmers Union filed legal ... read more >
March 17, 2017
Bipartisan Bill Introduced To Reform RFS Program
On March 2, 2017, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) reintroduced the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Reform Act, which aims to guide the debate and reform of the ethanol mandate.  According to Goodlatte, the RFS program failed to lower prices at the pump and resulted in unintended and profound effects on consumers, energy producers, livestock producers, retailers, and the environment.  The RFS Reform Act, which had 42 bipartisan cosponsors, would eliminate corn-based ethanol requirements, place a ten percent cap on the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline, ... read more >
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