EPA extends compliance period for 2013 blend requirement

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 9, 2014

U.S. EPA today extended the compliance period for refiners to meet 2013 renewable fuel requirements, a move that paves the way for the Obama administration to punt a decision on a controversial 2014 proposal.

In a final rule posted online this afternoon, the agency said it would extend the deadline until Sept. 30 for refiners to blend 16.55 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuels into petroleum. The 2013 compliance year had been scheduled to end on June 30.”In light of the fact that the EPA has not yet issued the 2014 annual standards rule, we believe it is appropriate to provide a further extension of the 2013 compliance demonstration deadline,” EPA said in the rule.

EPA said it believes that refiners should know the 2014 requirements prior to the end of the 2013 compliance year. The 2014 requirements will affect the decisions of refiners to bank renewable fuel credits for use in the future, the agency said.

For months, EPA officials have publicly said the agency would finalize the agency’s 2014 renewable fuel rule, the proposal for which called for the first-ever rollback of the nation’s biofuel targets, before the end of June. The extension of the compliance period, rumors of which began to surface this week, today takes heat off the agency to issue the rule before the end of the month.

The agency did not respond to a request for comment earlier today on the extension and when it plans to send its final version of the rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

In an email this afternoon to industry stakeholders obtained by E&ENews PM, Paul Argyropoulos, senior policy adviser in EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said that the agency intends to issue the 2014 volume standards “in the near future.”

“The 2014 RFS rulemaking has been more time consuming than originally anticipated,” the agency said in today’s action, noting that EPA received more than 300,000 public comments.

The 2014 rule as proposed in November would require refiners to use 15.21 billion gallons of ethanol and advanced biofuels (E&ENews PM, Nov. 15, 2013).

Advanced biofuels producers objected to the delay. Oil companies have known since 2007, when the renewable fuel standard was written into law, what their obligations would be in 2013 and 2014, Biotechnology Industry Organization spokesman Paul Winters said.

“EPA should issue a final rule for the 2014 RFS that is consistent with established policy and the goals of the program,” Winters said. “Delays in issuing rules and especially in approval of new pathways significantly chill investment in emerging advanced biofuel companies.”