EPA Finalizes RFS Rules

Cindy Zimmerman

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a package of actions Friday setting biofuel volumes for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for years 2020, 2021, and 2022, and introducing regulatory changes intended to enhance the program’s objectives.

EPA also established a 250-million-gallon “supplemental obligation” to the volumes finalized for 2022 and stated its intent to add another 250 million gallons in 2023, to address the remand of the 2014-2016 annual rule by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA.

To promote efficiency and opportunity in producing biofuels, this action also establishes a regulatory framework that allows biointermediates to be included in the RFS program, while ensuring environmental and programmatic safeguards are in place.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the final regulatory actions taken by EPA “bring certainty back to the Renewable Fuel Standard and pave the way for future growth in the production and use of low-carbon renewable fuels”, and will lead to lower gas prices and greater energy security. However, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper says they are disappointed with the EPA’s decision to reopen and retroactively lower RFS requirements for 2020, which they believe is entirely unnecessary.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings agreed. “While we strongly object to the unnecessary retrospective cut EPA is making to 2020 volumes, we are pleased the Agency is upwardly revising the 2021 volumes to align more closely with actual consumption and upholding base conventional volume of 15 billion gallons for 2022, along with 250 million supplemental gallons to address the DC Circuit court order in 2017.”

Clean Fuels Alliance America is pleased the final rule recognizes the continued growth of biodiesel, renewable diesel and other clean fuels and establishes readily achievable program obligations. Vice president of federal affairs Kurt Kovarik says they particularly support EPA’s decision to deny pending small refinery exemptions and its consistent finding that the program benefits Americans without hardships for refiners. “EPA’s denial of pending small refinery exemptions for 2019 through 2021 assures our industry that the volumes set today will be fully met, even with compliance flexibilities. This is an important first step in restoring integrity to the program.”

Kovarik says they encourage the agency to quickly finalize new feedstocks pathways, such as that for canola oil.

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