Biobased and Renewable Products News: RFS

July 13, 2018
EPA Announces Public Hearing And Publishes Proposed Rule On Renewable Fuel Standard Program
On July 3, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was holding a public hearing for the proposed rule “Renewable Fuel Standard Program:  Standards for 2019 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2020” on July 18, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  83 Fed. Reg. 31098.  The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 10, 2018.  83 Fed. Reg. 32024.   The notice states that the public hearing will provide interested parties the “opportunity to present data, views, or arguments concerning the [proposed ... read more >
June 29, 2018
EPA Releases Proposed Rule Setting 2019 RFS Requirements
On June 26, 2018, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signed a proposed rule that includes 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel, as well as 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVO) for biomass-based diesel.   These blend levels increase requirements from 2018 but are still lower than the statutory levels set by Congress under the RFS. The levels, along with the fact that the proposed rule does not address the reduction in price that ... read more >
June 22, 2018
Biofuel And Agricultural Groups Petition EPA Regarding RFS Obligations
On June 4, 2018, several biofuel and agricultural groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), and the National Biodiesel Board, among others, petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations.  The ACE announcement states that the petition asks EPA to “change its regulations to account for lost volumes of renewable fuel resulting from the unprecedented number of retroactive small refinery exemptions from [RFS] ... read more >
June 15, 2018
Biofuels Groups And Refiners Filed Final Briefs In Challenge To Renewable Fuel Standards Final Rule
On June 8, 2018, petitioners in the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) case Coffeyville Resources Refining, et al. v. EPA filed their final briefs in the case challenging EPA’s final rule that established:  (1) the annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel (BBD), advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that apply to all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in the year 2017; and (2) the applicable volume of BBD for 2018.  81 Fed. Reg. 89746 (Dec. 12, 2016).  Final briefs were filed by petitioners Coffeyville ... read more >
May 18, 2018
EPA Sends Proposed Rule For 2019 RFS Volumes To OMB
On May 11, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a proposed renewable fuel standard (RFS) biofuel volumes rule for 2019 to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for pre-publication review.  The proposed rule addresses 2019 renewable blending obligations for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total biofuel, with a proposed 2020 percentage standard for biomass-based diesel. The 2019 blending requirement for biomass-based diesel is 2.1 billion gallons and was included in a final rule from ... read more >
May 11, 2018
In Meeting With Senators, Trump Proposes Counting RINs From Ethanol Exports And Allowing Year Round Sales Of E15, Walks Back RIN Price Cap Proposal
On May 8, 2018, President Trump met with a group of Republican Senators and told them that he is considering allowing exported ethanol to count toward the volumes mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  During this meeting, Mr. Trump also reiterated support for expanding sales of E15, and withdrew his verbal proposal to cap the price of RINs, which had been widely criticized by the ethanol industry. These announcements came after increasing concern about the future stability of the RFS after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently granted over two dozen hardship ... read more >
May 11, 2018
ABFA Files Petition Against EPA Over RFS Small Refinery Exemptions
On May 3, 2018, the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) announced that it had submitted a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to provide waivers from RFS requirements. Michael McAdams, President of ABFA, stated:  “We have seen reports that the number of small refinery exemptions recently granted for compliance years 2016 and 2017 have doubled compared to previous years. ABFA members are concerned that Administrator Pruitt is granting these exemptions in an arbitrary and capricious manner to ... read more >
April 13, 2018
Open Letter From Iowan Biofuel Producers Urges Protection Of RFS
On April 6, 2018, a coalition of biofuel producers wrote to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) urging them to reach out to President Trump to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. EPA, under the direction of Administrator Scott Pruitt, recently provided a large oil refining company, Andeavor, with a hardship waiver. These waivers are typically given to small refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels per day that would suffer a “disproportionate economic hardship” from the costs of RFS compliance. Since Andeavor’s exemption was ... read more >
April 6, 2018
Weekly Roundup of Other Biobased News
Princeton University, “Researchers Use Light to Turn Yeast into Biochemical Factories” Biodiesel, “NBB Again Disappointed by Failure to Renew Biodiesel Tax Credit” Biodiesel Magazine, “DOJ Must Maintain Integrity of RFS, Reject PES Settlement” Reuters, “U.S. Asks Brazil to Review Ethanol Quotas in Tariff Talks - Industry Group” Berkeley Lab, “Sewage Sludge Leads to Biofuels ... read more >
March 16, 2018
RFS Reform Bills Introduced In Congress
On March 8, 2018, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced companion legislation (S. 2519, H.R. 5212) in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, respectively, to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The Growing Renewable Energy through Existing and New Environmentally Responsible (GREENER) Fuels Act aims to: Phase out the corn ethanol mandate and immediately reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel by as much as one billion gallons by capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 9.7 percent; Help farmers ... read more >
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 >
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