EPA opens comment period on cellulosic waiver credit rules 

Source: By Erin Voegele, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2015

On April 3, the U.S. EPA published its direct final rule and parallel proposed rule on cellulosic waiver credits (CWCs) in the Federal Register, officially opening a 30-day comment period. The agency released prepublication versions of the rules in late March.

The rulemaking aims to clarify the data sources and methodology used to calculate the price of cellulosic waiver credits (CWCs) and would amend regulations to allow CWC prices to be announced in a more timely manner. The rulemaking would also reinsert language into the renewable fuel standard (RFS) regulations that was inadvertently overwritten by the Quality Assurance Program final rule.

The price of CWCs are determined using a formula specified in the Clean Air Act, with the price set at the greater of 25 cents or $3 minus the wholesale price of gasoline. Both figures are adjusted for the inflation. The new rulemaking clarifies how the EPA will adjust for inflation. The rules also aim to alter how CWC prices are announced. While in previous years, the EPA established the price by rulemaking and published the resulting prices in the Code of Federal Regulations, the agency said that process has resulted in delays for 2014 and 2015 credit prices. The new rulemaking will allow the agency to announce CWC prices on its website. According to the EPA, it plans to set the 2014 CWC price at 49 cents, with the 2015 CWC price set at 64 cents. The 2013 CWC price was 42 cents. The prices will be officially published on the EPA website once the rulemaking becomes effective.

Both a direct final rule and parallel proposed rule have been published in the Federal Register. The direct final rule will become effective June 2 without further notice unless the agency receives adverse comment by May 4. If the EPA does receive adverse comment, it will publish a withdrawal of the portions of the direct final rule on which adverse comment was received in the Federal Register, informing the public that those portions of the rule will not take effect. The rulemaking process for those components of the rule would then be completed via the parallel proposed rule.

Members of the public can request a hearing on the proposed fuel by April 20. If a public hearing request is received, the EPA said it will publish a notice in the Federal Register indicating the time and place for the hearing. If a public hearing is held, written comments must be received within 30 days of the date of the after the date of the hearing. If no public hearing is held, then comments must be received on or before May 4.

Comments on both rules can be made online at Regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0049. Comments can also be submitted via email, mail or hand delivery. Additional information on the direct final ruleproposed rule and how to submit comments is available on the Federal Register website.