Proposed EPA data collection could again delay RFS: analyst

Source: By Platts • Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Washington (Platts)–¬†US Environmental Protection Agency plans to seek new data from potential cellulosic biofuel producers to help set its annual volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard, a move one analyst said indicates another agency delay in setting its Renewable Volume Obligations.

“We believe today’s notice could indicate that EPA wants more information prior to proposing and finalizing future cellulosic biofuel targets,” Timothy Cheung, a research analyst with ClearView Energy Partners, said in a note. “At minimum, that could portend delays to the finalization of cellulosic targets.”

On Tuesday, the EPA published a notice outlining information it plans to collect from biofuel producers “to aid in determining the annual volume standards.”

This information collection, which would need approval from the White House, would also include information collection from some ethanol producers and importers in order to “standardize collection of selected data point and allow better and more efficient compliance with the RFS program,” the notice states.

Public comments on this information collection system are due by May 26, which Cheung said would “leave little room” for the agency to set up the formal data collection effort and incorporate it into a rule ahead of the agency’s June 20 deadline to propose Renewable Volume Obligations for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Liz Purchia, an EPA spokeswoman, however, said the notice “does not impact the volume rule in terms of timing, numbers or policy.”

“It is simply a step to stay in compliance with the paperwork reduction act,” Purchia said in a statement.

In February, Chris Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said the agency plans to base its 2014 RFS on actual biofuels production and reiterated the plan to issue the 2014, 2015 and 2016 mandates this spring, which the EPA plans to finalize by year’s end.