EPA Targeting Dec. 20 Release of Final 2020 Renewable Fuel Volumes

Source: By Jordan Godwin, Platts • Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019

DANA POINT, Calif. — EPA is targeting a Dec. 20 release of its final 2020 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rule, agency officials have told biofuel industry representatives.

The Dec. 20 target would land on the Friday before Christmas and come three weeks after the comment period closed on a supplemental rulemaking the agency released in mid-October. The agency is required under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) statute to release annual renewable fuel blending targets by Nov. 30 of the previous year but has missed that deadline in the past.

“They know that they’re already behind schedule so that’s a date that they have circled,” a biofuel industry source told OPIS at the RNG 2019 Conference here.

“They also know that they have a lot of work to turn around in a three-week period.”

Word that EPA could release the number before Christmas comes a day after Frank Machiarrola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs with the American Petroleum Institute (API), offered a “ballpark estimate” that would have the agency issue a final RVO in late December or early January. EPA, he said, will clearly need additional time, but “we’re in uncharted territory.”

The agency in July proposed an RVO of 20.04 billion gal of renewable fuels to be blended next year, a 120-million-gal increase from this year’s 19.92 billion gal. Within that total, EPA left unchanged the volume for conventional biofuel at 15 billion gal, the statutory level, and proposed to increase the advanced biofuel volume to 5.04 billion gal from 4.92 billion gal this year.

The 2020 total includes the already-finalized 2.42-billion-gal RVO for biomass-based diesel (BBD). EPA, which is required to set BBD volumes a year ahead of the others, has proposed to maintain that target for 2021. The cellulosic biofuel target was set at 540 million gal, up from the 2019 target of 420 million gal.

EPA in mid-October requested comment on a plan that would see it redistribute volumes of gasoline and diesel lost to RFS compliance through small-refinery exemptions (SREs) based on a three-year rolling average of relief recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The proposal was widely criticized by the biofuels industry, which argued that it fell short of a commitment it believed it had received from the Trump administration that would prohibit EPA waiving more gallons than it would prospectively reallocate when developing annual RVOs.