EPA May Miss 2026 RFS Volumes Deadline

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2024

White House Unified Agenda Shows RFS 2026 Deadline Moved Back One Year

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — New Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for 2026 and beyond could be delayed if a unified agenda released by the White House comes to fruition.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is required by statute to finalize RFS volumes for 2026 by Oct. 31, 2024. The latest unified agenda, however, indicates December 2025 as the finalization date.

According to the agenda, , EPA plans to release an RFS proposal by March 2025 with a rule being finalized at the end of next year. The unified agenda sets deadlines for all regulatory actions but isn’t necessarily final.

Under the new set rule finalized in June 2024, the agency set RFS volumes through 2025. The multiyear rule was said at the time to have provided a bit of market certainty to the biofuels industry.

If the unified agenda is accurate, this means the next RFS volumes could be set by a new administration. The unified agenda also indicates there is no legal deadline to set the next RFS volumes.

“Congress set these deadlines because farmer and biofuel producers need certainty to invest well before the next harvest,” Growth Energy said in a statement to DTN.

“But the unified agenda is not set in stone — it’s an estimate — and Growth Energy will keep watch and keep the pressure on EPA, just as we did with the court-ordered consent decree setting a deadline for the 2023-2025 renewable volume obligations.”

In June 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia through a consent decree ordered the EPA to finalize the 2023 to 2025 set rule by June 14, 2023. That was extended by a week and the agency met that deadline, .

When contacted by DTN, a spokesperson for EPA said the agency has started “preliminary work” on an RFS rulemaking for volumes after 2025.

“We will update the public and interested stakeholders with more information regarding timelines for this action as our work progresses,” the agency said in a statement.

LEGAL DEADLINE

Paul Winters, director of public affairs and federal communications at Clean Fuels Alliance America, said agency officials have indicated to the group that they are working on the next RFS rule.

“We’ve met with EPA and understand they have been working on the 2026 RFS rule with the November 2024 deadline in mind,” Winters told DTN.

“The White House’s announced timing and apparent disregard of the statutory deadline is disappointing. Up until last year, EPA consistently argued that promoting advanced biofuel production was the central aim of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Clean Fuels recently requested EPA to amend the RFS to bump up volumes for biomass-based diesel, .

EPA set biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuel volumes for 2023 to 2025 that were “significantly below” existing production and ongoing expansion, Winters said.

“There should be more urgency to get the RFS back on track and support economic opportunity,” he said.

2027 VOLUMES MAY BE AFFECTED

Corey Lavinsky, a biofuels consultant and attorney at S&P Global, said in several posts on social platform X that if the 2026 volumes deadline is missed, it is likely the EPA will miss the deadline for the 2027 volumes as well.

Lavinsky told DTN that biofuels producers need RFS certainty.

“Knowing what the mandates will be gives everyone in the industry more clarity as to what supply will be needed to meet them,” he said. “This allows companies to better forecast prices and margins and plan their operations accordingly.”

Lavinsky said on X that EPA has known about the upcoming deadline for years.

“The EPA published RFS2 in March 2010, which set forth the deadlines for the annual biofuel mandates,” Lavinsky said. “So, the EPA had 14 years’ notice that its deadline for the 2026 mandates would be 10/31/24.”

In addition, Lavinsky said it is unlikely the EPA will be making any amendments to the RFS volumes as requested by Clean Fuels Alliance America.

“Amending 2025 looked feasible if done in 2024,” he said on X. “Biomass-based diesel mandates will remain low and there will be no cellulosic waiver credit for another year.”

PAST RFS DELAYS

The RFS statute requires EPA to promulgate rules to establish volumes no later than 14 months before the first year that volumes would apply.

The agency has delayed RFS volumes repeatedly since the passage of the law back to 2005.

In August 2021, the agency sent proposed volumes to the Office of Management and Budget that included setting volumes for 2020 to 2022.

The Trump administration in 2020 passed on setting volumes for 2021, and then the Biden administration did the same in 2021.

Under the Obama administration, the EPA missed RFS deadlines on several occasions.

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