Top Dem urges EPA to set biodiesel targets 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday called on U.S. EPA to get back on track in issuing annual requirements for biodiesel production.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) said the agency’s delay in issuing the standards is hurting the domestic biodiesel industry. EPA last year failed to set any annual biofuel targets under the renewable fuel standard.

“The delays in promulgating final rules have harmed the investment expected to flow into both biodiesel and other advanced biofuels industries,” Boxer wrote.

Congress established the current renewable fuel standard in 2007 to require refiners to blend increasing amounts of conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels into petroleum fuel through 2022. Biodiesel, a renewable fuel made from soybean oil, used cooking grease and animal fats, is considered an advanced biofuel under the program.

Although the law spelled out yearly aspirational targets for biofuels production, EPA is given leeway to decide where the mandates should be set.

By law, biodiesel is treated differently from other biofuels in the RFS. EPA is required to set the annual mandate at least 14 months before it goes into effect. The agency has yet to set the 2014, 2015 and 2016 standard for the industry.

In November 2013, EPA proposed to set the standard at 1.28 billion gallons for 2014 and 2015 — a target that the biodiesel industry said greatly underestimated production. EPA ultimately never finalized the proposal, which also called for cuts to the mandates for conventional ethanol and other advanced biofuels.

“Like many industries, the biodiesel industry requires certainty in order to plan for future production, continue to innovate, and to expand advanced production technologies,” Boxer wrote in her letter. “Ensuring the continued implementation of the RFS is also a critical part of the country’s efforts to realize the industry’s contribution to reducing carbon pollution and addressing climate change.”

On Monday, 32 bipartisan senators pressed EPA with a similar message (Greenwire, Feb. 9).