EPA finalises blending volumes for renewable fuel

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final rule for the country’s 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and 2021 biomass-based diesel volumes on 19 December.

It left 2021 biomass-based diesel volumes at 2020 levels, or 11bn litres, while slightly increasing the 2020 advanced biofuel targets from its proposed 22.9bn ethanol-equivalent litres to 23bn gallons, Biodiesel Magazine wrote.

“Other advanced biofuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel received no additional market space,” the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) said. The 2019 volume for advanced biofuels was set at 22.3bn litres, while the 2019 biomass-based diesel volume was 9.5bn litres.

Biodiesel producers and trade groups have criticised the final rule for the lack of growth in advanced biofuels including biodiesel; for not restoring lost litres granted through small refinery exemptions (SREs); and for finalising a contentious proposal to account for future exemptions using US Department of Energy recommendations rather than a three-year average of actual litres waived, Biodiesel Magazine said.

Since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the EPA has more than quadrupled the number of SREs granted, exempting 85 small producers (some owned by large petrochemical firms) from blending 18bn litres of renewable fuel into the nation’s fuel supply.

The Renewable Fuels Association said the final rule opened the door for SREs to continue to erode RFS volumes and destroy demand for the USA’s biofuel producers and farmers.

NBB vice president of federal affairs, Kurt Kovarik, said the EPA’s final rule was out of step with congressional intent and President Trump’s promises.

“Congress and the president are extending the biodiesel tax incentive through 2022 and sending an unmistakable signal that they support continued growth of biodiesel and renewable diesel. At the same time, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler is doing everything he can to block that growth.”

On 20 December, Trump signed into law a new budget deal that included a five-year extension of the US$1/gallon biodiesel blenders tax credit, Biodiesel Magazine wrote.

The deal reinstated the blenders credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel retroactively from its expiry on 1 January 2018 through to 31 December 2022.