The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action on Friday pursuant to a consent decree agreement that requires EPA to finalize RFS volumes for 2021 and 2022 no later than 3 June 2022 (Friday). In the final volumes, EPA adjusted the final biofuel volumes for 2021 to reflect updated data on actual 2021 ethanol use that has become available since the proposal was issued.
Final Volume Requirements for 2020-2022 (billion gallons)
All values are ethanol-equivalent on an energy consult basis, except for BBD which is biodiesel-equivalent
|Total Renewable Fuel
The rule results in setting conventional ethanol at 13.79 billion gallons in 2021 and 15 billion gallons in 2022, up from 12.5 billion for 2020.
EPA also established a 250-million-gallon “supplemental obligation” to the volumes finalized for 2022 and stated its intent to add another 250 million gallons in 2023, to address the remand of the 2014-2016 annual rule by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA.
In addition to finalizing the volume requirements, the rule also finalizes a regulatory framework to allow “biointermediates” to be included in the RFS program, while ensuring environmental and programmatic safeguards are in place.
Biointermediates are feedstocks that have been partially converted at one facility but are then processed into an RFS-qualified biofuel at a separate facility. Providing a way for producers to utilize biointermediates may reduce biofuel production costs and expand opportunities for more cost-effective biomass-based diesel, advanced, and cellulosic biofuels.
This new regulatory framework will allow new facilities looking to make advanced, innovative biofuels to qualify under the RFS program, expanding access to the program for biofuel producers and increasing compliance flexibility.
Separately, and recognizing the growing importance of renewable diesel as a biofuel, earlier this year EPA proposed a rule that would find that renewable diesel and other biofuels made from canola oil would qualify as advanced biofuel under the RFS. The agency is on track to finalize this rule by the end of this year.
This step to approve additional pathways for generating renewable identification numbers (RINs) under the RFS program will enable additional biofuel supplies to enter fuel markets.
Farm and biofuel organizations were generally supportive of the EPA action, although the Advanced Biofuels Association said that with this ruling, the Biden administration missed an important opportunity to prioritize advanced low carbon fuels.
Separately, EPA is announcing a suite of small refinery exemption (SRE) actions. These include a final decision to deny a set of previously pending SRE petitions spanning the 2016–2021 compliance years, a proposed rulemaking to provide an alternative schedule for small refineries to comply with their 2020 RFS obligations, and a revision to an earlier action that provides an alternate compliance approach for certain small refineries for the 2016, 2017, and/or 2018 compliance years.