US EPA finalizes rule extending refinery compliance deadline for biofuel laws

Source: By Stephanie Kelly, Reuters • Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2022

NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday announced it had finalized a rule that would give oil refiners more time to comply with biofuel blending mandates, including those from previous years.

The agency is working to finalize proposed biofuel blending requirements for 2020, 2021 and 2022. It said on Friday it would change the way in which future deadlines are determined to help ensure that each year’s deadline falls after the standards for the subsequent compliance year are known.

Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels, or buy compliance credits from those that do.

As part of the Friday rulemaking, the EPA is extending the RFS compliance deadline for the 2019 compliance year only for refineries with a capacity of 75,000 barrels per day or less. For 2020, 2021 and 2022, the EPA is extending the deadline for all obligated parties.

In 2021, several oil refiners slowed or stopped buying compliance credits in a bet the EPA would ease the blending requirements, putting them at risk of hundreds of millions of dollars in liabilities.

The Renewable Fuels Association, a biofuels trade group, said on Friday it was disappointed by the action and was concerned by the new approach the agency is taking on future deadlines.

“With this final rule, EPA just gave itself the power to perpetually delay implementation of yearly RFS blending requirements and continually kick the can down the road on compliance deadlines,” RFA President Geoff Cooper said in a statement.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly Editing by Mark Heinrich and Mark Potter