The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has submitted comments to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Proposed Volume Standards for 2020, 2021, and 2022 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on how the Agency can improve the final rule in a way that makes important near-term greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.
ACE’s comments also express support for the EPA’s plan to restore the 500 million (US) gallons (≈ 1.89 billion litres) unlawfully waived in 2016 by implementing a 250-million-gallon ( ≈ 946 million litre) supplemental volume remedy for 2022 and 2023.
In ACE’s feedback, CEO Brian Jennings advises EPA:
- Withdraw the proposed cut for 2020 and maintain volumes realized during that year, citing the “unprecedented, unnecessary, and legally dubious” nature of the proposal to retroactively reduce the volumes.
- Revise the 2021 volumes to align more closely with actual consumption, setting a final volume for implied conventional biofuel of at least 14 billion gallons (≈ 53 billion litres).
- Proceed to finalize the proposed 2022 volumes, including restoring 500 million gallons (≈ 1.89 billion litres) of supplemental volume for 2022 and 2023.
Without course corrections for the 2020 and 2021 compliance years, EPA may merely maintain a 2022 statutory volume of 15 billion gallons (≈ 56.8 billion litres) on paper.
Jennings wrote that if the proposed cuts for 2020 and 2021 are finalized it “…will mean refiners will have amassed a stockpile of carryover RINs with which to meet a 15-billion-gallon implied conventional biofuel volume for 2022 as opposed to blending physical gallons of E15 and higher ethanol blends.”
ACE also expressed support for EPA’s new approach regarding Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs), encouraged the Agency to proactively consider regulatory relief to ensure year-round market access for E15, and urged EPA to replace its badly outdated internal biofuel GHG modeling tool with the latest version of the Department of Energy’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies (GREET) model.
Finally, Jennings informed EPA of the first-of-its-kind Regional Conservation Partnership Program. ACE and several partners were awarded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) last year to help establish a protocol for ethanol producers and farmers to document the low carbon benefits of certain farming practices and offered praise to USDA Secretary Vilsack for his visionary efforts to establish a new Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Initiative to scale the deployment of climate-smart farming practices and demonstrate their link to reducing GHG emissions from products such as ethanol.