EPA proposes 2020 RVOs

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed its 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVOs), as well as the 2021 RVO for biomass-based diesel, Ethanol Producer reported on 5 July.

The proposal released under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) required 91bn litres of renewable fuels to be blended into the US fuel supply in 2020, up from 90.5bn litres in 2019.

Ethanol Producer wrote that the 2020 RVO included 23bn litres of advanced biofuels, 11bn litres of biomass-based diesel - which was set last year and is the same for 2021, and 2.4bn litres of cellulosic biofuel (an increase of 545M litres from the 2019 figure).

The proposed RVO would require biofuels to make up 10.92% of US transportation fuel, including 2.75% advanced biofuels, 1.99% biomass-based diesel and 0.29% cellulosic biofuel.

The rulemaking also contained several proposed amendments to the RFS regulations.

This included clarification of diesel RVO calculations, pathway petition conditions, a biodiesel esterification pathway, distillers corn oil and distillers oil pathways, and renewable fuel exporter provisions, Ethanol Producer wrote.

The amendments came as part of the Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support rule, which was proposed in late 2016 and had yet to be finalised.

The EPA said it was considering whether several of the proposed changes included in the Renewable Energy Group’s rule could be finalised as part of the 2020 RVO rule, Ethanol Producer wrote.

This included allowing the production of biomass-based diesel from separated food waste; flexibilities for renewable fuel blending for military use; heating oil used for cooling; RFS facility ownership changes; additional registration deactivation justifications; a new Renewable Identification Number (RIN) retirement section; a new pathway for co-processing biomass with petroleum to produce cellulosic diesel, jet fuel and heating oil; public access to information; and other revisions to the fuel program.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) criticised the rulemaking for neglecting to prospectively reallocate small refinery exemptions and ignoring court orders to restore improperly waived gallons.

“As long as EPA continues to dole out compliance exemptions to oil refiners without reallocating the lost volume, the agency may as well start referring to the annual RFS levels as ‘renewable volume suggestions’ rather than ‘renewable volume obligations,’” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA.

“It is a complete misnomer to call these blending volumes ‘obligations’ when EPA’s small refinery bailouts have essentially transformed the RFS into a voluntary program for nearly one-third of the nation’s oil refineries.”

According to the RFA, the EPA approved 54 exemptions for 2016 and 2017 and 38 requests for 2018 exemptions were pending.

The exemptions had effectively lowered the total RFS requirement for 2017 by 8.2bn litres and cut the 2016 requirement by nearly 3.6bn litres.