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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s final decision for the country’s biofuel blending requirements has not been well received by the US biofuel industry, AgriCensus reported.

Published on 21 June, the 2023-2025 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes or renewable volume obligations (RVOs) were set at 20.94bn gallons (79.26bn litres) for 2023, 21.54bn gallons (81.53bn litres) for 2024 and 22.33bn gallons (84.52bn litres) for 2025, the report on the same date said.

However, biomass-based diesel volumes – of which the majority of feedstock was derived from soyabean oil – were left unchanged for 2023 from the EPA’s proposal in last December of 2.82bn gallons (10.67bn litres), AgriCensus wrote.

The EPA’s final rule differed slightly from the proposed figures last December that called for an overall blending mandate of 20.82bn gallons (78.81bn litres) in 2023, 21.87bn gallons (82.78bn) in 2024, and 22.68bn gallons (85.85bn litres) in 2025, the report said.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) was quoted as saying the final figures were an “unfortunate step backward from the volumes that were originally proposed”.

Delayed by a week following an agreement with ethanol lobby group Growth Energy, the final rule held the implied ethanol mandate at 15bn gallons (56.78bn litres) – cutting out a modest 250M gallon (946M litres) increase that some industry figures had hoped for, the report said.

“If EPA’s goal with the RFS is to maximise reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector, today’s final rule falls short by arbitrarily limiting conventional biofuel use to 15bn gallons in 2024 and 2025 compared [with] the Agency’s proposal of 15.25bn gallons (57.72bn litres) for each of those years,” Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, was quoted as saying.

“Higher blending targets would enable fuels such as E15 and E85 to quickly displace carbon pollution from petrol, but EPA’s proposal will rein in those opportunities,” Jennings added.

Agreeing with Jennings, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor was quoted as saying the USA “should be expanding market opportunities for higher blends like E15, not leaving carbon reductions on the table.”

In a statement, RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper was quoted as saying the RFS was intended to drive continual growth in all categories of renewable fuels well beyond 2022.

“Instead, today’s final rule flatlines conventional renewable fuels at 15bn gallons and misses a valuable opportunity to accelerate the energy sector’s transition to low- and zero-carbon fuels,” he said.

Cooper added that by removing half a billion gallons of lower-carbon, lower-cost fuel, “today’s rule needlessly forfeits an opportunity to further enhance US energy security and provide more affordable options at the pump for American drivers.”

The EPA’s final decision to lower volumes for conventional biofuels “runs counter to the direction set by Congress and will needlessly slow progress toward this administration’s climate goals”, according to Growth Energy’s Skor.

The American Soybean Association said the final rule was “a letdown for soyabean growers,” adding that it “threatens the success of the biomass-based diesel industry by significantly dialling back annual increases in volume obligations and failing to account for the progress being made in biofuels investment and growth.”

Following media reports of lower-than-expected changes in the EPA’s final RVOs rule, prices of vegetable oils dropped, AgriCensus wrote.