The Environmental Protection Agency surprised the biofuels industry Tuesday by issuing a notice asking for comment on further reducing volume obligations for some fuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
The EPA Notice of Data Availability (NODA) suggests a reduction of the 2018 advanced biofuel volume requirement from the proposed level of 4.24 billion gallons to 3.77 billion gallons, and the 2018 total renewable fuel volume requirement from the proposed level of 19.24 billion gallons to 18.77 billion gallons, driven by apparent concerns over biofuel imports.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) calls EPA’s action outrageous “This seems like a bait-and-switch from the EPA’s prior proposal and from assurances from the President himself and Cabinet secretaries in my office prior to confirmation for their strong support of renewable fuels…This all gives me a strong suspicion that Big Oil and refineries are prevailing, despite assurances to the contrary,” said Grassley.
“There is no rationale for further lowering either the 2018 advanced biofuel volume requirement or the total renewable fuel volume,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “EPA appears to be adopting API’s argument that ‘domestic supply’ somehow means ‘domestic production,’ when this is clearly not the case. The domestic supply of biofuels includes both imported and domestically produced biofuel volumes, just as USDA recognizes in its monthly supply-demand estimates that the total domestic supply of corn includes corn imports from other countries.”
The EPA notice cites concerns that price of biodiesel used in the U.S. could increase as a result of the recent Department of Commerce determination that it would be appropriate to place countervailing duties of 41% to 68% on imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia. Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), says EPA was already “underestimating the power of domestic biodiesel production and ignoring the intent of the law” in the proposed RVO rule and this request for comment is even more disappointing. “NBB will be working with EPA to demonstrate the industry’s proven success record, continued growth and impacts to American workers who were promised that this administration had their back,” said Whitehead.