The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has retracted its proposed change to the country’s biofuels policy after resistance from the Senate and a presidential intervention.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt pledged in a letter to seven senators on 19 October that he would not proceed with the suggested policy changes, which included a lower advanced biofuel mandate, The Hill wrote on 20 October.
On 26 September, the EPA sought comments on potential reductions in Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO)s including decreasing the advanced biofuel volume for 2018 to 4.24bn gallons and holding the biomass-based diesel volume for 2019 stagnant at 2.1bn gallons.
Pruitt’s announcement came after a bipartisan group of 33 senators sent a letter to him, urging him to not implement the proposed changes.
According to sources close to the administration, US president Donald Trump – who campaigned on a platform of supporting domestic ethanol production – had also instructed Pruitt not to proceed with the proposals.
Republican senator for Iowa Joni Ernst, one of the recipients of Pruitt’s letter, welcomed his decision.
“Echoing the president’s commitment to advancing the full potential of the RFS to benefit rural America is welcome at a time when our family farms are struggling with commodity prices that are below the cost of production,” she said in a statement.
In his letter, Pruitt also pledged to keep total renewable fuel volumes at or above previously proposed levels and to not shift the obligation of compliance from fuel refiners to distributors.
In addition, he said the EPA would begin to “actively explore the possibility of approving the sale of E15 – or 15% ethanol – fuel year-round, as it was currently restricted during the summer months.
Pruitt said the EPA was on track to release final biofuel volume mandates by 30 November, according to The Hill report.