EPA proposes further extension of 2013 RFS compliance deadline

By Erin Voegele | August 04, 2014

The U.S. EPA is taking action to extend the 2013 renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance deadlines for a third time. On July 31, the administration published a direct final rule and parallel notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the annual compliance and attest engagement reporting requirement deadlines for regulated parties. Under the rulemaking, the new annual compliance reports deadline will be 30 days following the publication of the final 2014 RFS rule in the Federal Register. The new deadline for the attest engagement reports will be 90 days following the publication of the final 2014 RFS rule in the Federal Register.

“This action ensures timely amendment of existing deadlines, before compliance obligations would otherwise go into effect,” said the EPA in the rulemaking.

According to a pre-publication version of the rule posted to EPA’s website, the direct final rule will become effective on Sept. 29 unless the EPA receives adverse comment within 37 days following publication of the rule in the Federal Register. In the event the EPA receives such a comment, it will withdraw the direct final rule and proceed with the notice of proposed rulemaking.

The statutory deadline for 2013 RFS compliance would have been Feb. 28, 2014. In its final rule establishing the 2013 RFS, the EPA extended the deadline until June 30. That rule was published in August 2013. 

On June 6, the EPA published rulemaking to extend the 2013 RFS compliance deadlines for a second time. The rule extended the compliance deadline for the 2013 RFS through Sept. 30 and the associated deadline for submission of attest engagement reports through Jan. 30, 2015.

Within that rulemaking, the EPA said it received comments on the 2014 RFS proposal that stressed the importance to obligated parties of knowing their final 2014 RFS obligations prior to the compliance deadline for the 2013 RFS standards. The EPA indicated that while the first extension was expected to be sufficient to accommodate the 2014 RFS rulemaking process, that rule has not been finalized within the expected timelines. As such, the EPA said a second extension was appropriate. “The 2014 RFS rulemaking has been more time consuming than originally anticipated, involving receipt of over 300,000 comments, concerning numerous specific issues related to the 2014 standards which the EPA needs, and wishes, to thoroughly consider and respond to,” said the EPA when it proposed the second deadline extension.  The EPA’s new rulemaking to extend that deadline a third time seems to indicate additional delays in finalizing the 2014 RFS standards.

The U.S. EPA published its proposed rule for the 2014 RFS in mid-November. The comment period on the rulemaking closed on Jan. 28. The EPA’s Regulatory Development and Retrospective Review Tracker currently lists July 2014 as the expected timeframe for publication of the 2014 RFS final rule. The White House Office of Management and Budget, however, does not yet list the rule as being under review. OMB review of the rulemaking is likely to be a final step before the rule is published.

A statement issued by Growth Energy on the latest extension notes the EPA has explained the compliance deadline is being extended because the agency is still working on 2014 RFS and is taking the time to get those standards right. “Uncertainty surrounding both the 2013 RVO and 2014 RVO levels isn’t helping anybody and it remains unclear when the 2014 rule will be finalized. Although this is the third time the EPA has extended the 2013 RFS compliance deadline, we continue to believe it is more important that the EPA adequately address the concerns raised by our industry pertaining to both the 2014 RVOs, and the methodology to establish future volumes, to ensure the goals of the RFS are met,” said Growth Energy.