RFS foe expects Obama admin to release final rule next week

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 20, 2015

A leading opponent of the renewable fuel mandates expects U.S. EPA will announce a final rule just before Thanksgiving.

“We would not be surprised if the rule came out next week,” Bob Greco, director of downstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute, told reporters today.

API is fighting to repeal the mandate that the United States produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels annually by 2022.

EPA has a Nov. 30 legal deadline to issue a final rule dictating how many gallons of renewables are to be blended into the motor fuels supply for 2014, 2015 and 2016, plus an addition 2017 mandate for biodiesel.

The rule arrived at the White House Office of Management and Budget on Oct. 30. Interest groups have been weighing in with OMB on the contentious policy.

API released a poll today from Harris Poll intended to showcase scant popular support for the mandate.

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, a refining trade group, met with the White House today, and other interest groups — including the pro-RFS Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy — have scheduled face time with OMB this week.

Greco said there have been indications EPA would allow an increase in ethanol from the levels in the proposed rule to coincide with a rising demand for fuel.

API has advocated that ethanol in gasoline not surpass 9.7 percent. Breaching the 10 percent limit, or “blend wall,” could put car engines and small motors at risk for damage, a claim that ethanol backers have rebuked.

“We don’t think American consumers should be guinea pigs for EPA to test the blend wall,” Greco said.

EPA’s three-year proposed rule for the RFS calls for year-over-year increases in refiners’ biofuel requirements. However, the levels are lower than what Congress wrote in the 2007 statute that expanded the program.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 registered voters, found 75 percent of respondents were concerned that a rising level of ethanol in the fuel tank could leave vehicle owners with damaged engines that would not be covered under an automaker’s warranty. The margin of error was 3 percent.

Most gasoline currently contains a 10 percent blend of ethanol. EPA has approved blends of up to 15 percent for model years 2001 and newer.