In July, the agency proposed a total renewable fuel volume of 19.24 billion gallons (BG), maintaining the conventional biofuel (corn ethanol) requirement at the 15 billion gallon level but reducing advanced biofuels (mostly biodiesel) to 4.24 billion gallons, including 238 million gallons of cellulosic. The EPA proposal also maintained just the minimum required biomass-based diesel volumes at 2.1 billion gallons for 2019, far below the industry request of 2.75 billion gallons.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for the industry over the past two months, starting with EPA taking the unprecedented action in September of issuing a Notice of Data Availability (NODA), seeking comment on the potential for further reductions in the volumes, after the comment period on the proposal had already closed. Then came the October show of unity by biofuels supporters like Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, ultimately causing EPA to back down from any proposed changes. Backlash from oil state lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), have since held up the nomination of Iowa agriculture secretary Bill Northey to a USDA Under Secretary position.
The administration has promised to release the final rule by today’s deadline and no matter what the numbers are, they will be news.