New Coalition Pushes Congress to Begin Work on National Clean Fuel Policy

A new coalition of 23 agriculture, biofuels, technology and other companies and interest groups is pushing federal lawmakers to begin work on legislation aimed at decarbonizing transportation fuel.

On Monday, the coalition asked the leaders of two committees in the House and Senate to begin taking steps to help achieve a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“The undersigned organizations are writing to urge the committee to begin the legislative process to address the issue of decarbonizing the transportation fuel sector in support of a national goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide not later than 2050,” the groups said in a letter.

“Without immediate action in the 117th Congress, that goal is very likely unattainable.”

The groups and companies signing the letter include the Advanced Biofuels Association, Advanced Engine Systems Institute, Alliance for Automotive Innovation, American Coalition for Ethanol, Amply Power, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, BYD Motors, ChargePoint, ClearFlame, Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, Cummins, Dominion Energy, DTE Energy, EVgo, Great Plains Institute, Low Carbon Fuels Coalition, Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association, National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center, National Corn Growers Association, Neste, Renewable Fuels Association, South Dakota Corn Growers Association and World Energy.

“A strong national clean fuels policy that sends clear long-term and durable signals will encourage rapidly growing investment in the technologies needed to simultaneously reduce criteria and carbon pollution in all communities across America,” the letter said.

“Designed properly, it will spur innovation, create jobs, and ensure equitable and sustainable economic growth, as well as smooth the transition to a cleaner and more just zero-carbon future.

“We would welcome the opportunity to participate in an open dialogue with the committee as you consider or begin this important work. Our organizations look forward to providing additional information and engaging with you as the process moves forward. Further, we encourage you to consult with and hear from all stakeholders, in particular frontline and disadvantaged communities and communities of color, who have a stake in setting the country on a clean transportation path.”

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Biden Weighs Small Cut to Biofuel Targets in Nod to Refiners

The Biden administration is developing targets for biofuel that are likely to be relatively flat or even lower as it seeks to balance the interests of blue-collar refining workers and advance a clean-energy agenda.

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose renewable fuel requirements within weeks, according to several people familiar with the strategy who asked not to be named before a formal announcement. The targets will dictate how much corn-based ethanol, biodiesel and other renewable fuels oil refiners must blend into their products in 2021 and 2022. The proposal is on track to be issued after the Supreme Court makes what could be a pivotal ruling on the EPA’s ability to exempt refineries from the mandates.

Oil refiners meet the government’s biofuel quotas either through blending renewable fuels themselves, or by purchasing credits from others that have. Prices for some of those credits have hit all-time highs this year on expectations the Biden administration would impose more ambitious quotas and stop exempting refineries from them. Corn and soybean prices have also climbed on expectations of more demand from biofuel makers.

Instead, the EPA is considering more modest targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard program, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified describing internal deliberations. The agency is also moving to abandon a plan for incorporating waived quotas that had been adopted under former President Donald Trump.

The move responds to pressure from refining advocates who have warned about mounting costs for the tradeable compliance credits.

“EPA is working to get the RFS program back on track, and we continue to engage with all stakeholders in that effort,” agency spokesman Nick Conger said by email.

The July gasoline crack spread extended a decline on the New York Mercantile Exchange, narrowing 23 cents to $18.95 a barrel at 4:57 p.m.

Labor Advocates

Democrats from the president’s home state of Delaware, including Governor John Carney and Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons have asked the EPA to give refineries more time to satisfy last year’s quotas and ensure new 2021 requirements reflect the pandemic-spurred drop in fuel demand. Labor leaders also have also pressed President Joe Biden to set “reasonable” blending quotas and compensate for 2020 targets they say were “well above the amount of biofuels that could possibly be blended into the fuel supply.”

The Biden administration’s decision could have profound implications for non-integrated refineries across the Northeast U.S., including PBF Energy Inc., and Delta Air Lines Inc.’s Monroe Energy, which have urged EPA to lower quotas.

Those considerations have factored into the EPA’s decision making so far, according to four people familiar with the agency’s approach. EPA officials have gamed out numerous scenarios as they seek to respond to the refining concerns without undermining the renewable fuel program, the people said.

Those options include maintaining or reducing blending requirements for 2021, while also ending a short-lived practice of incorporating estimated waived quotas.

‘Completely Shocked’

The efforts mark the Biden administration’s first foray into the notoriously contentious Renewable Fuel Standard, a 16-year-old federal law that requires refiners and fuel importers to mix biofuel into gasoline and diesel.

The EPA monitors refiners’ compliance with annual quotas via the system of tradeable credits known as Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, that are generated by blending biofuels. Refiners that fall short of biofuel-blending quotas can buy the credits from other refiners and traders.

Biofuel advocates are pushing back against quota reductions, with lawmakers from rural, corn- and ethanol-producing states preparing to make direct appeals to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, according to three people familiar with the matter.

“I would be completely shocked if the Biden administration actually took action to weaken or undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Geoff Cooper, head of the Renewable Fuels Association. “It would embolden the fossil energy industry and threaten the president’s entire clean energy and climate agenda.”

New Biofuels

EPA staff are working to approve new biofuels for use under the program, a move that could expand production of alternative fuels as well as RINs associated with them. EPA officials also have been asked to consider delaying the deadline for fulfilling 2021 quotas, a move it already took for 2019 and 2020.

It is unclear how the EPA will address a lingering 2017 court ruling that found the agency improperly waived 500 million gallons worth of quotas in 2016. Biofuel supporters have pressured the agency to incorporate those requirements, while refining advocates have suggested ways they could be mostly set aside.

Complicating matters, the Supreme Court is set to rule within weeks — and as soon as Thursday — on a case that tests the EPA’s ability to exempt small refineries from annual blending quotas. The Biden administration already urged the high court to limit those exemptions, and it isn’t expected to widely issue waivers even if the Supreme Court disagrees.

Carbon Capture ‘Key Tool’ to Curb Factory Emissions, John Kerry Says

Carbon capture is emerging as a key strategy for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions from heavy industry, according to U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.

“Industrial decarbonization is one of the critical challenges of the climate crisis,” Kerry said Tuesday at a conference organized by BloombergNEF. “Carbon capture is obviously a key tool available today for reducing process emissions from industrial manufacturing.”

Kerry’s comments come days after a meeting of the Group of Seven nations, where leaders faced criticism for a stopping short of setting concrete measures to limit global warming. Kerry’s focus on capturing carbon reflects concern that industrial processes such as making steel or cement present a bigger challenge for eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions than transportation or power generation.

Nations and businesses have made significant process in developing carbon-free electric vehicles and clean energy technologies, and both are necessary components of efforts to achieve net zero emissions. The next step in the fight will be addressing industry, according to Kwasi Kwarteng, the U.K.’s business secretary.

“We haven’t made as much progress in decarbonizing industrial processes as we have in electricity generation,” Kwarteng said during a panel discussion at the BNEF event.

Given the delays in cutting emissions over the past few decades, many scientists have said carbon-capture technologies will be needed to reach global climate goals. These technologies fall in two categories: trapping emissions from concentrated sources like power plants or factories and taking out the greenhouse gas directly from the atmosphere.

Nebraska ethanol plants could soon store carbon dioxide underground

A new industry is set to take off in Nebraska.

If it works out as backers hope, it would create jobs in the state and offer financial advantages for the state’s ethanol producers. In addition, the industry could have significant implications in the effort to combat climate change.

The groundwork was laid by State Sen. Mike Flood’s Legislative Bill 650, which all but one legislator voted to pass last month. Since then, multiple companies have announced plans to contract with ethanol producers in Nebraska to filter carbon dioxide and permanently store that element in the ground — either in the state or piped elsewhere.

Other production facilities, such as power and fertilizer plants, are also eligible to participate.

Here’s how it essentially works: Instead of allowing carbon dioxide to emit from a producer’s stacks, those stacks would be capped and route the carbon dioxide to a series of compressors. The carbon dioxide is then converted into a transportable form such as liquid and stored well below the surface — at least 2,600 feet below.

The specific storage plan varies.

Research and development organization Battelle and investment firm Catahoula Resources, for example, want to put the carbon dioxide underneath the ethanol plants or, at most, a few miles away.

According to Jon Cartlidge, commercial sales director at Battelle, the companies expect to spend anywhere between $20 million and $50 million per plant. The companies do not intend to seek public financing.

Cartlidge said the company is exploring locations in the state where the rock below the surface is porous and thus conducive to carbon storage.

Already, Grand Island-based Chief Industries confirmed in a press release last week that it has entered into a partnership with Catahoula for carbon sequestration via its Chief Ethanol division in Hastings. Battelle is currently researching storage sites.

In Nebraska, the most promising areas are in the central and western parts because the higher elevations create deep rock reservoirs. Still, state geologist and University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Matt Joeckel emphasized that companies should confirm each site’s integrity for carbon storage before making plans.

“Thorough site investigations are absolutely critical,” he said. “That takes money. That is probably going to involve drilling some test holes.”

Once satisfactory sites are found, Cartlidge said carbon dioxide could begin to be stored within two years, depending on how long it takes to obtain permits from federal and state environmental agencies.

Another company, Navigator CO2 Ventures, plans to build a pipeline network encompassing 1,200 miles that would take liquified carbon dioxide from Nebraska and four other states and store it deep underground in the Mount Simon Sandstone Formation in central Illinois.

Navigator CEO Matt Vining said the Environmental Protection Agency has approved carbon sequestration in that area.

“From our perspective, it represents a great geologic candidate,” he said.

The proposed pipeline would be centered in Iowa but extend into northeast Nebraska, eastern South Dakota and southwest Minnesota.

According to Vining, the company expects to spend in excess of $2 billion to build the pipeline, which would become active in late 2024 and early 2025. Vining said Navigator will spend the next few years gathering information and seeking government permits.

“In a project that is this big, it’s not like a light switch,” he said. “Not everybody comes on at the same time. You have to kind of put it into service in phases.”

Vining said Valero, which operates about eight ethanol plants in the five states, including one in Albion, Nebraska, will be the pipeline’s anchor customer. Vining added that about a dozen other companies have expressed interest in connecting to the pipeline.

Investment management firm BlackRock will primarily finance the pipeline’s construction. Navigator said it doesn’t intend to seek public money.

The financial incentives are enormous. For every metric ton of carbon dioxide that is stored, producers get a $50 tax credit from the federal government. A plant that annually produces 75 million gallons of ethanol would produce at least 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. So permanently storing that carbon dioxide would result in tax credits worth at least $10 million.

Additionally, energy producers that store their carbon dioxide will lower their carbon dioxide intensity score, which affects their ability to sell their ethanol. A lower score could allow a producer to sell to states such as California, which has stringent carbon dioxide regulations.

“If you’re an ethanol plant that has a very low carbon score, you’re going to be a lot more attractive to the California market and their regulators than any other seller of ethanol,” Flood said. “Reducing your carbon score means better prices and better returns for Nebraska farmers.”

The climate incentives are also significant. At full capacity, Navigator claims that its pipeline and underground storage would be the annual equivalent of removing 2.6 million cars from the roads or planting 550 million trees.

Joeckel cautioned that carbon sequestration is just one of the tools that is needed to fight climate change.

“It is one of several strategies that we will have to take if we really want to reduce the input of anthropogenic CO2 into the atmosphere,” he said.

Company officials contend that risks resulting from a potential pipeline leak are minimal. At worst, they say, any leaks would be released into the atmosphere as the carbon dioxide is now.

“Specifically for CO2, a leakage would mean that CO2 that was just going into the atmosphere anyway is now going into the atmosphere,” Cartlidge said. “It really would not be a such a change.”

Even so, officials say they plan to build pipelines to minimize the potential for leaks. As specified by LB 650, any company that seeks to build a carbon capture operation would also need to satisfy state requirements that ensure that any captured carbon poses virtually no risk of escaping into the atmosphere or putting people’s health and the surrounding natural resources at risk.

Company officials say they hope to avoid the controversies that have surrounded other pipeline projects, including Keystone XL and Dakota Access, in recent years.

“We have prided ourselves on being a good neighbor,” Vining said. “We’re very purposeful in our preliminary routing to avoid (sensitive) areas. … We’re focused on doing this the same way we’ve always done it, which is the best way for all parties involved.”

More Ag Pandemic Relief Details

USDA Announces Aid for Biofuel, Livestock Producers, Among Others

USDA on Tuesday detailed new aid being released to help offset financial damages from the pandemic. Biofuel producers and multiple groups in livestock and poultry industries will receive the bulk of the aid. (DTN file photo)
USDA on Tuesday detailed new aid being released to help offset financial damages from the pandemic. Biofuel producers and multiple groups in livestock and poultry industries will receive the bulk of the aid. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) — Biofuel producers will split $700 million in aid funds for pandemic production losses, and livestock producers who have been left out of earlier aid also will see some assistance, as USDA announced more relief funds on Tuesday.

Also included in the aid will be funds for livestock producers who were forced to euthanize animals during the height of the pandemic’s shutdown and slowdown of packing plant capacity in spring of 2020.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced additional aid to agricultural producers and businesses as part of the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. The aid should start to roll out to producers and businesses over the next 60 days and will include support for biofuel producers, the timber industry, dairy farmers, livestock producers and contract poultry growers, as well as cost-share for organic conversion.

“USDA is honoring its commitment to get financial assistance to producers and critical agricultural businesses, especially those left out or underserved by previous COVID aid,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These investments through USDA Pandemic Assistance will help our food, agriculture and forestry sectors get back on track and plan for the future. Since January, USDA has provided more than $11 billion of assistance directly to producers and food and agriculture business.”

The funds for the newest relief package will come from $6 billion USDA announced in March would be set aside for multiple initiatives. The funding comes from aid relief bills passed last March as well as last December.

Among the major funding details released Tuesday, $700 million will go to biofuel producers. The ethanol industry clamored for aid last year as demand for liquid fuel crashed during government shutdowns. Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the group is pleased with Tuesday’s announcement and that the relief will come over the next two months.

“This assistance comes at a critical time, as ethanol producers are still struggling to recover from COVID-related market losses and are now facing historically high feedstock costs. Many plants remain offline or are operating at reduced output rates. We look forward to receiving additional details on the program from USDA and we are eager to work with the department to ensure smooth and successful implementation,” Cooper said.

Another $700 million will go to agricultural and food-processing businesses to help offset the costs of personal protection equipment (PPE) going to “specialty crop growers, meat packers and processors, seafood industry workers, among others.”

The Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) also has $580 million for small- and medium-sized dairy farms. A new Dairy Donation Program dealing with food insecurity and food waste will also receive $400 million. Small, family owned timber operations also would be eligible for aid with $200 million set aside.

USDA did not specify how much in funds would be set aside for livestock producers left out of previous rounds of pandemic assistance, or aid for contract poultry growers. Another area with unknown assistance will be aid to livestock and poultry producers forced to euthanize animals during the pandemic — running from March 1, 2020, through Dec. 26, 2020.

Another $20 million will go toward organic cost-share assistance, including for producers who are transitioning to organic.

Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, noted the new round of aid will help fill in the gaps for farmers and livestock producers who missed out on previous rounds of assistance, especially beginning, socially disadvantaged and small- and medium-sized producers that need support most, he said.

“As more and more Americans get vaccinated, things are slowly returning to normal — but many businesses, including farms and ranches, are still feeling the lingering financial impacts of the pandemic,” Larew said. “Throughout this crisis, we’ve appreciated USDA’s efforts to offer family farmers the help they’ve needed to stay solvent despite market and supply chain disruptions; the additional support announced today, along with last week’s news about the Build Back Better plan, will help offset any remaining losses and begin to lay down the foundation for a more secure, competitive, and resilient food system.”

USDA has already announced $5 billion in a mix of loans, grants and innovative financing to make investments to build a food system that is more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy food produced and sourced locally and regionally by farmers and processors from diverse backgrounds, USDA stated.

“We have more work to do to build back a better food system, strengthen our supply chains, and make sure American agriculture gives our farming and ranching families every opportunity to earn a good living,” said Secretary Vilsack. “As the economy continues to bounce back, USDA will ensure American agriculture is ready to seize the moment.”

Since USDA rolled out the Pandemic Assistance initiative in March, the Department has announced approximately $6.8 billion in assistance (Part II and III) to producers and agriculture entities, the bulk of which, about $6.3 billion, is going to farmers and livestock producers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

Separately late last week, USDA also announced more than $1 billion in aid is being released to farmers and livestock producers who have been waiting for payments for Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) and the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP-Plus) should see payments over the next several weeks with payments beginning today, June 15. (https://www.dtnpf.com/…)

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

USDA grants biofuel producers $700 million in COVID-19 aid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will give $700 million in aid to biofuels producers as part of a package to assist industries recovering from the financial devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said on Tuesday.

Biofuel groups had been advocating for relief after the pandemic slashed fuel demand and sank consumption of biofuels like ethanol. The USDA said it plans to implement the aid in the next 60 days.

“USDA is honoring its commitment to get financial assistance to producers and critical agricultural businesses, especially those left out or underserved by previous COVID aid,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement.

The Renewable Fuels Association welcomed the news.

“This assistance comes at a critical time, as ethanol producers are still struggling to recover from COVID-related market losses and are now facing historically high feedstock costs,” said Geoff Cooper, RFA president. “Many plants remain offline or are operating at reduced output rates.”

Margins to produce ethanol in the U.S. Corn Belt have risen to 16 cents per gallon, slightly higher than 13 cents per gallon during the same time last year, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

Ethanol production has risen to about 1.1 million barrels per day, up from about 837,000 bpd a year ago, Energy Information Administration data showed.

The biofuels aid is part of a package that also supports groups including timber harvesters and dairy farmers.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Aurora Ellis

EXCLUSIVE GM to boost spending on electric vehicles by 30%

WASHINGTON, June 15 (Reuters) – General Motors Co will boost global spending on electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion through 2025, a 30% jump over its most recent forecast as it pursues EV leadership, people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

As part of that spending, the No. 1 U.S. automaker will build two additional U.S. battery plants and move ahead some of its EV investments, said the sources, who asked not to be identified. In November, GM upped its spending plans from $20 billion, a figure that was announced in March before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the auto industry.

The Detroit company declined to comment.

The expected announcement of increased spending by GM comes less than a month after rival Ford Motor Co (F.N) upped its EV spending by more than a third to over $30 billion by 2030.

The combined $65 billion in commitments by the largest U.S. automakers, as well as increased spending by EV leader Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and startups including Lucid and Rivian reflect the EV arms race that has left some automakers like Lordstown Motors Corp (RIDE.O) scrambling to raise more funds.

In addition, GM Chief Executive Mary Barra is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other key Democrats to discuss EVs and vehicle emissions, the sources said.

Barra will also meet U.S. Representative Richard Neal, head of the tax policy Ways and Means Committee, Frank Pallone, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, and two key Michigan Democrats: Representatives Dan Kildee and Debbie Dingell, the sources said.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis

 

Average Age of U.S. Vehicles Rises to 12.1 Years

SOUTHFIELD, Mich.—The average age of light vehicles in operation in the U.S. has risen to 12.1 years, increasing by nearly two months during 2020 and elevated by the COVID-19 pandemic, new research from IHS Markit shows. The rise in average age will further drive vehicle maintenance opportunities from an increasingly older vehicle fleet, the research firm said.

COVID-19 and its impact across the U.S. caused a drastic reduction in new vehicle sales, as well as a sudden increase in vehicle scrappage, which was a catalyst for increased velocity in the growth of the average age of light vehicles, IHS Markit said. The pandemic-induced rate of increase in average age is expected to be short-lived, though, as 2021 is expected to bring a return of new vehicle registrations and increased activity in used registrations.

“2020 was a radical departure from the norm and challenged assumptions about how vehicle owners use their vehicles and accumulate miles; from a vehicle fleet perspective, one of the real surprises was the number of vehicles that suddenly exited the active population,” said Todd Campau, associate director of aftermarket solutions at IHS Markit.

In early 2020, the pandemic put significant pressure on new vehicle sales as dealerships worked to implement modified sales processes and deliveries to adhere to social distancing guidelines and create a comfortable vehicle purchasing experience for consumers, even moving some transactions online. A strong finish to 2020 demonstrated the resilience of new vehicle registration since more than eight million new vehicles were registered during the second half of the year, bringing new registrations up to 5.1% of light vehicles in operation for the whole year.

While new vehicle sales proved resilient, the most significant impacts to the age of the passenger vehicle fleet from the pandemic were felt in the rate of vehicle scrappage and vehicle miles traveled. Vehicle miles traveled declined year over year by over 13% in 2020 because of lockdowns and work-from-home policies.

Two related factors in 20201 are expected to mute average age growth, according to IHS Markit analysis. The ongoing microchip shortage is expected to continue to challenge new vehicle production volumes through the fourth quarter, but rounding out the year, IHS Markit expects U.S. light vehicle sales to reach 16.8 million, which would mute average age growth. In addition, during the height of pandemic, some vehicle owners may have allowed registrations to expire because their vehicles were not being driven.

The combined impact of the factors at play in 2020 led to the first decrease in average vehicle age since 2012, with 279 million vehicles in operation as of January 2021, down from nearly 281 million a year prior. In addition, electric vehicles continued to increase, with strong registrations through 2020, pushing total electric vehicles in operation to nearly one million units. The average age of electric vehicles in the U.S. is 3.9 years old and has been hovering between 3.8 and 4.1 years since 2016 as the volume of new registrations of electric vehicles continue to represent a large share of overall EV light vehicles in operation.

White House OMB reveals expected timelines of 2 RFS rules

The Biden administration has signaled its intent to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to develop post-2022 Renewable Fuel Standard regulations before the end of 2021. A proposed rule to set annual RFS renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2021 and 2022 is expected to be released in July 2021.

Both rulemakings were discussed in the administration’s 2021 Spring Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan, which was published by the White House Office of Management and Budget on June 11.

According to information posted to the OMB website, a notice of proposed rulemaking to set annual RVOs under the RFS is scheduled to be released in July, with the rule finalized in December 2021. The brief abstract published on the rule does not indicate which compliance years the proposed rule will address. The U.S. EPA, however, failed to issue a proposed rule to set 2021 RFS RVOs last year. As such, the rulemaking is expected to include proposed RVOs for both compliance years 2021 and 2022.

A separate notice of proposed rulemaking scheduled for publication in December 2021 will address the future of the RFS program. Statutory provisions in the Clean Air Act governing the RFS provide target RVOs through 2022. For years 2023 and later, the EPA must set RVOs based on an analysis of factors specified in the statute. According to the OMB, the rulemaking scheduled for release in late 2021 is scheduled to be finalized in December 2022 and will establish RVO requirements beginning in 2023.

The 2021 Spring Agenda and Regulatory Plan also addresses other regulations of interest to those in the biofuels and biorefinery industries.

A notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the EPA’s Fuels Regulatory Streamlining rule is scheduled for release in August 2021. That rulemaking is expected to propose minor technical amendments to EPA’s fuel quality regulations that fix minor typographical errors, provide additional clarification to reporting and recordkeeping regulatory provisions, and amend the sampling and testing requirements for fuels to be more consistent with industry practice.

In addition, the USDA is set to issue a final rule related to its Biopreferred program in July 2021. That rule will add 2018 Farm Bill provisions to the program, specially proposing to codify program guidance into the regulations, according to the OMB.

A separate USDA rule scheduled for publication in July 2021 is expected to finalize recently announced Rural Energy for America Program regulations.

Additional information is available on the OMB website.

EPA previews more tailpipe rules

EPA air officials said Tuesday they’re in the early stages of additional regulations related to conventional and greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes. The agency says it is on track to propose new federal light-duty standards sometime next month to replace the Trump rollback, but the Biden administration also is looking even further forward.

Alejandra Nunez, the deputy assistant administrator for mobile sources in the air office, told a virtual gathering of transportation advisers on Tuesday that post-2026 standards are “a priority for us” and that a firmer timeline could come “in the next few months.”

Keep on truckin’: Acting EPA air chief Joe Goffman also promised action on the long-delayed truck nitrogen oxide rule, formally known as the Cleaner Trucks Initiative, which would strengthen nitrogen oxide emissions limits. Administrator Michael Regan is working with the air office on a strategy for the heavy-duty trucking sector, to debut in the “not-too-distant future,” Goffman said.