US EPA takes action to "protect integrity" of the Renewable Fuel Standard Program
The United States (US) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it moving forward to review and adjudicate petitions for small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program. Furthermore, that it is denying petitions for small refinery exemptions for past compliance years, the so-called “gap-filling” petitions for the 2011-18 compliance years.
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set annual RFS volumes of biofuels that must be used for transportation fuel for four categories of biofuels: total, advanced, cellulosic, and biomass-based diesel.
EPA implements the RFS program in consultation with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the US Department of Energy (DOE), and consistent with the Clean Air Act. EPA’s longstanding interpretation of the Clean Air Act allows for the granting of a petition for exemption from blending requirements under the RFS program for the reason of “demonstrated, disproportionate economic hardship”.
According to a statement on September 14, the EPA is ensuring a net of 15 billion gallons (≈ 56.77 billion litres) of conventional biofuel are blended into the nation’s fuel supply. EPA renewable fuel volume mandates have continued to rise in EPA’s annual rulemakings, and, with it, renewable transportation fuel use in the United States.
This decision follows President Trump’s promise to promote domestic biofuel production, support our nation’s farmers, and in turn strengthen our energy independence. At the EPA, we are delivering on that promise by following the rule-of-law and ensuring 15 billion gallons are blended into the nation’s fuel supply, said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
From 2016 to 2019 domestic ethanol production increased by 2 percent. Additionally, the EPA “eliminated” a significant barrier to E15 market access, and E15 is now used in 30 states at over 2,000 stations.
As a next step, EPA is moving to update E15 labels to ensure consumers have informed choices at the pump and clarify the ability of existing fuel infrastructure to support expanded E15 use. However, EPA points out that much of the responsibility regarding labels falls to state agencies.