This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking seeking additional comment on the recently proposed rule to establish cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes for 2020 and biomass-based diesel volume for 2021 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
The EPA says this notice does not change the proposed volumes for 2020 and 2021. Instead, it proposes and seeks comment on adjustments to the way that annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. Annual renewable fuel percentage standards are used to calculate the number of gallons each obligated party is required to blend into its fuel or to otherwise obtain renewable identification numbers to demonstrate compliance.
Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on projecting the volume of gasoline and diesel that will be exempt in 2020 due to small refinery exemptions based on a three-year average of the relief recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), including where the DOE had recommended partial exemptions.
In response to the announcement, the American Biogas Council says the Trump administration’s issuance of exemptions to oil refineries is more than any previous administration by a factor of 5-10, which has significantly depressed the value of RFS credits, known as RINs. The 85 exemptions to date have allowed oil refineries to avoid blending over 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel – such as biogas, renewable natural gas, ethanol and biodiesel – into fuels sold for domestic consumption. This reduction in market demand for renewable fuel causes greater damage to renewable fuel producers, including farms, the council says.
“The Trump administration simply cannot be trusted to properly administer the Renewable Fuel Standard. The actions taken so far are killing project development, the creation of jobs and private investment, and, most importantly, directly attacking the livelihood of American farmers. This nonsense must stop, and it must stop now,” comments Patrick Serfass, executive director of the American Biogas Council. “The administration and EPA need to end the issuance of small refinery exemptions, reallocate waived gallons back into the RFS, activate the dormant renewable electricity pathway that was created 11 years ago, and allow biogas projects to split their D3 and D5 RINs using the ‘simplified BMP methodology.’”
The EPA will hold a public hearing on Oct. 30, followed by a 30-day comment period, to receive input. The agency will finalize this action later in the year. More can be found here.