Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2017. The agency proposed a total renewable fuel volume of 18.8 billion gallons (BG), of which 4 BG is advanced biofuel and 312 million gallons is cellulosic biofuel. That leaves a 14.8 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol. The Renewable Fuels Association has consistently called on EPA to follow congressional intent by increasing blending targets, and is currently involved in litigation on the final 2014–2016 targets. RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen released the following statement:
“For months, EPA has been saying it plans to put the program ‘back on track.’ Today’s proposal fails to do that. The agency continues to cater to the oil industry by relying upon an illegal interpretation of its waiver authority and concern over a blend wall that the oil industry itself is creating. As a consequence, consumers are being denied higher octane, lower cost renewable fuels. Investments in new technology and advanced biofuels will continue to languish and greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles will be unnecessarily higher.
“The real frustration is that EPA seems to be artificially constraining this market. The RFA has demonstrated just how easy it would be for obligated parties to reach the 15 billion gallon statutory volume for conventional biofuels next year. The fact is with rising gasoline demand, increased E15 and E85 use made possible by USDA’s infrastructure grant program, continued use of renewable diesel and conventional biodiesel that also generate D6 RINs (renewable identification numbers), well more than 15 billion gallons will be used next year. All of that is in addition to the 2 billion surplus RINs available to refiners due to EPA’s tepid enforcement of the RFS in the past.
“EPA can be given credit for two things—getting the proposal out in a timely fashion and at least coming within a mere 200 million gallons of the statutory level of 15 billion gallons for conventional biofuels. As this process continues, we intend to work to encourage a final rule that truly puts the RFS ‘back on track.’ As it is, today’s proposal is a lost opportunity for this administration to cement its legacy in clean fuels, advanced biofuel and climate change.”