EPA’s Regan stresses importance of biofuels, calls for ag input

Source: By Steve Davies, AgriPulse • Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Michael Regan

EPA Administrator Michael Regan reiterated his “open-door” policy for agriculture as the agency develops regulations and policies, and said biofuels, “especially advanced biofuels,” will be part of the Biden administration’s transportation agenda as it tackles climate change.

Speaking at the Agri-Pulse Ag & Food Policy Summit Wednesday, the new leader of the EPA said he wants regular input from the ag industry. “I want to hear from you directly when innovation has been stifled, because we need to work together to overcome these challenges,” he said.

Regan said he’s excited about working with the ag community. “I’m enthusiastic about the future of our partnership, identifying areas where we can be helpful, as well as how we can work on advancing climate-smart agricultural practices together,” he said. “It’s important … that I hear directly from the farming community on a consistent basis,” he said.

He also pledged to appoint an agricultural adviser soon to help coordinate policy and regulatory efforts with other government agencies such as the departments of Agriculture, Interior and Energy, among others.

Regan didn’t offer any specifics on upcoming EPA actions, saying he is “going to take time to listen to the expertise of EPA’s dedicated career staff” and take a “science-based, deliberate approach before we set any specific policy action.”

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Repeating something he has said earlier, Regan said he also will appoint an environmental justice adviser to help implement one of Biden’s principal goals — achieving equity in the implementation of government programs and regulations.

Regan was confirmed for the position after receiving widespread support from the ag industry, which lauded his record of listening to the industry when he was secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

On the Renewable Fuel Standard, Regan said EPA will be working in 2021 “to get that program back on track” and provide “more transparency, more certainty in the decisions that we’ve made.”

On Tuesday, Regan signed a final rule extending RFS compliance deadlines for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years for obligated parties. The new 2019 deadline is Nov. 30 of this year, and the new deadline for the 2020 year is Jan. 31, 2022.

Growth Energy criticized the move. “We are disappointed in EPA’s decision to accept the refiners’ request to extend the deadline for their blending requirements for 2020,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said in a news release. “Refiners using COVID-19 as a pretext to attack the Renewable Fuel Standard is wrong, as biofuel producers were among the hardest hit by COVID-19, with over half the industry offline at the peak of the crisis.

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