EPA Agrees to Deadlines for Announcing Renewable Fuel Volumes

The EPA announced Friday, April 10, it has reached a consent decree in a lawsuit with petroleum groups that legally binds the agency to meet a deadline of June 1 for proposing 2014 and 2015 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes, and it also announced an aggressive and encouraging new timeline for establishing Biomass-based Diesel volumes through 2017.

The announcement comes in three parts.

Part one (the consent decree) does the following:

  • Requires EPA to have a final 2014 and 2015 program in place by November 30, 2015.
  • Requires EPA to propose the 2015 RVO by June 1, 2015.
  • Requires EPA to address the Waiver Request by November 30, 2015

Part two (not part of the consent decree) does the following:

  • States that EPA will finalize the 2016 RVO process by November 30, 2015.
  • States that EPA will propose the 2016 RVO by June 1, 2015.

Part three (not part of the consent decree) does the following:

  • States that EPA will finalize the 2017 Biomass-based Diesel Program by November 30, 2015.
  • States that EPA will propose the 2017 Biomass-based Diesel Program by June 1, 2015.

“Today’s announcement is a positive development that appears to demonstrate that the EPA is committed to ending these delays and moving the RFS forward in the coming weeks,” Anne Steckel, Vice President, Federal Affairs for the National Biodiesel Board said in a release. “It significantly expands the agency’s earlier statements of proposing 2014, 2015 and 2016 volumes by June 21 and would get the agency back on track with the statutorily required deadlines for biodiesel.”

Questions remain as to the volume levels proposed by EPA, but the agency has reiterated that it will “re-propose volume requirements for 2014, by June 1, that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.”

The volumes for Biomass-based Diesel in 2014 were approximately 1.75 billion gallons. Steckel said the EPA reaffirming its commitment to “actual use” appears to be a step in the right direction.

NBB has been aggressively pressing the Administration to end these delays by focusing on the difficulties facing producers without a functioning RFS. This has included advocating directly with senior leaders in the Administration, working closely with our supporters in Congress and raising awareness through the media.

Under statute, the EPA is supposed to finalize Biomass-based Diesel volumes under the RFS 14 months in advance of the applicable year. The agency is late in setting biodiesel volumes for 2014, 2015 and 2016. It is also late in establishing 2014 and 2015 volumes for other fuel categories of the RFS.

The announcement stems from the petroleum groups’ frequent lawsuits over the RFS but also from the persistent pressure renewable fuels stakeholders have applied on the Administration through advocacy campaigns.

Both the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) have repeatedly sued the EPA over RFS regulations, including most recently over missed deadlines.  NBB has been aggressively pressing the Administration to end these delays by focusing on the difficulties facing producers without a functioning RFS. This has included advocating directly with senior leaders in the Administration, working closely with our supporters in Congress and raising awareness through the media.

The EPA’s announcement and consent decree, which the agency agreed to voluntarily, can be found on the EPA’s website.