White House OMB reviewing EPA rule to amend RFS program

Source: By Erin Voegsel, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016

The U.S. EPA delivered a proposed rule to amend the renewable fuel standard (RFS) to the White House Office of Management and Budget on May 10. The rule is titled “Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule.”

Information published by the EPA explains the rule aims to make numerous changes to promote the production of renewable fuels. First, it would make several changes to the RFS program, resolving outstanding issues and providing clarification on certain RFS requirements.

In addition, the rule will propose to allow for feedstocks partially converted at a facility other than a renewable fuel’s production plant to be fully converted to into finished fuel at a renewable fuel production facility. The partially converted feedstocks are referred to as biointermediate feedstocks.

The EPA has also indicated the proposed rule will increase new registration, recordkeeping and reporting requirements for certain renewable fuel production facilities using carbon capture and storage (CCS) if the EPA were to allow CCS as a lifecycle GHG reduction technology in the context of the RFS.

The EPA goes on to explain that the rule will propose to require obligated parties to report a breakdown of their gasoline, diesel and heating oil production. It also addresses when the agency’s 90-day review period begins for petitions submitted by small refineries, provides an additional renewable identification number (RIN) pathway that is an extension of an existing pathway, and makes numerous technical corrections.

Finally, the EPA said the rule will implement fuel quality specifications for ethanol blends of 16 to 83 percent. “This action would provide substantial additional flexibility for ethanol flex fuel (EFF) producers that accommodate current market realities while continuing to ensure EFF quality is consistent with controlling pollution when used in flexible fuel vehicles,” said the EPA in a description of the rule. “The increased flexibility provided by this rule to produce EFF could result in the increased use of ethanol in motor fuels, thereby furthering the goals for increased renewable fuels use under the RFS program.”

EPA’s Regulatory Development and Retrospective Review Tracker currently estimates the proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register in August. The agency began the rulemaking process in May 2015.

The OMB is also currently reviewing the proposed RFS rule for 2017. That rule contains 2017 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for renewable fuel, advanced biofuel and cellulosic biofuel. It also contains the 2018 RVO for biomass-based diesel. The EPA’s Regulatory Development and Retrospective Review  currently forecasts 2017 RFS rule will be published in the Federal Register in June.

Additional information on the Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule is available on the EPA website.