EPA opens comment period on proposal to reduce 2018, 2019 RVOs

By Erin Voegele | October 04, 2017

On Oct. 4, the U.S EPA published a proposal that that could reduce 2018 and 2019 blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard in the Federal Register, officially opening a 15-day comment period. Comments are due Oct. 19.

The agency released a prepublication version of the proposal on Sept. 26. That proposal, or notice of data availability (NODA), seeks comments on potential reductions in 2018 and 2019 RFS renewable volume obligations (RVOs). The potential reductions primarily target biomass-based diesel, but would potentially result in corresponding reductions in RVOs for advanced biofuels and total renewable fuel.

Release of the NODA followed the July 5 release of EPA’s proposed rule to set 2018 RVOs under the RFS, along with the 2019 RVO for biomass-based diesel. The public comment period on that proposed rule closed Aug. 31. Under statute, the EPA is required to issue a final rule setting 2018 RVOs by Nov. 30.

Within the NODA, EPA presents historical data on imports of renewable fuel and discusses several options for how the EPA may consider such data in establishing final RVOs using one or more of the waiver authorities provided by statute. According to the NODA, the EPA has elected to take this action due to concerns over the cost and supply of advanced biofuel.

Specifically, the NODA cites the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit and a recent preliminary determination by the U.S. Department of Commerce that it would be appropriate to place countervailing duties of 41 percent to 68 percent on imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia as factors that could impact the cost and supply of advanced biofuels.

The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Biodiesel Board, and others have spoken out against the EPA’s actions, criticizing the agency for backpedaling on the Trump Administration’s commitment to biofuels and the RFS. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has also spoken out to oppose the EPA’s efforts and indicated he plans to “press the administration to drop this terrible plan.”

A full copy of the NODA and directions on how to submit comments can be downloaded from the Federal Register website. Comments can be filed on www.Regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0091.