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US EPA finalises RFS volumes for 2020, biomass-based diesel volumes for 2021

On December 19, 2019, the United States (US) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalised a rule that establishes the required renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2020 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel, and biomass-based diesel for 2021.

On December 19, 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalised a rule that establishes the required renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2020 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel, and biomass-based diesel for 2021 (chart courtesy EPA).

The EPA says that through this action, the Trump Administration has “fulfilled yet another key promise to the American people, American farmers, and American biofuels producers” by increasing biofuels volumes under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and modifying the program requirements to ensure those volumes are met.

By proposing effectively 15.8 billion gallons (≈ 59.8 billion litres) the EPA says it will net out at 15 billion gallons (56.75 billion litres).

Through President Trump’s leadership, this Administration continues to promote domestic ethanol and biodiesel production, supporting our Nation’s farmers and providing greater energy security. President Trump committed to our nation’s farmers that biofuel requirements would be expanded in 2020. At the EPA we are delivering on that promise and ensuring a net of 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuel are blended into the nation’s fuel supply said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Through this rule, EPA has modified the RFS program by projecting small refinery relief known as small refinery exemptions (SRE) to “ensure that these final volumes are met” while adjudicating small refinery relief when appropriate.

As proposed, we are finalizing a projection methodology based on the 2016-2018 annual average of exempted volumes had EPA strictly followed the Department of Energy (DOE) recommendations of 770 million Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) in those years, including granting 50 percent relief where DOE recommended 50 percent relief. This is our general approach to adjudicating Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) petitions going forward, beginning with 2019 SRE petitions and including 2020 SRE petitions and beyond, we are committed to following the DOE recommendations. By proposing effectively 15.8 billion gallons for 2020 we will ensure meeting our target of 15 billion gallons, the statement said.

The key elements of the EPA’s final rule are as follows:

  • “Conventional” biofuel volumes, primarily met by corn ethanol, will be maintained at the 15 billion gallon (≈ 56.75 billion litre) target set by Congress for 2020.
  • Cellulosic biofuel volumes for 2020, and thus advanced biofuel volumes, will increase by almost 170 million gallons (≈ 643.5 million litres) over the 2019 standard.
  • Biomass-based diesel volumes for 2021 will be equivalent to the standard for 2020, more than double the statutory requirement.

EPA will closely examine the labeling requirements for E15 fuel and move forward with clarifying regulations as needed. EPA has modified the way RFS obligations are determined to better ensure that these volumes are met, while still allowing for relief for small refineries consistent with the direction provided by Congress under the statute.

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