The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) expressed its disappointment with the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule for the 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard. The rule maintains the 2020 overall advanced volume and 2021 biomass-based diesel volume at the same levels as the current year, blocking growth for the biodiesel industry. The rule also finalizes a method that underestimates future small refinery exemptions, counting only half of the exempted volumes actually granted over the past three years.
“EPA’s final rule for the 2020 RFS volumes is simply out of step with Congressional intent and President Trump’s promises,” says Kurt Kovarik, National Biodiesel Board’s vice president of federal affairs. This week, Congress and the president are extending the biodiesel tax incentive through 2022 and sending an unmistakable signal that they support continued growth of biodiesel and renewable diesel. At the same time, EPA Administrator Wheeler is doing everything he can to block that growth.”
EPA sets the overall advanced biofuel volume for 2020 at 5.09 billion gallons, providing growth only for cellulosic biofuel. Other advanced biofuels, such as biodiesel and renewable diesel, received no additional market space. EPA maintains the 2021 biomass-based diesel volume at 2.43 billion gallons, the same volume as for 2020.
Kovarik continued, “Despite his statement to the press, Administrator Wheeler’s method for estimating future small refinery exemptions does not provide assurance to the biodiesel and renewable diesel market. The best estimate of future exemptions is an average of the 38 billion gallons exempted over the past three years. Even if EPA had included that estimate, though, there is nothing in today’s rule to ensure that the agency will get these exemptions under control.”
The estimate of small refinery exemptions applies equally to the overall, advanced, biomass-based diesel, and cellulosic biofuel renewable volume obligations (RVOs). While intended to ensure that the 2.43 billion biomass-based diesel volume for 2020 is fulfilled, the number of exempted volumes could still exceed EPA’s estimate.
In Thursday’s ruling, EPA defers a final determination on the U.S. Court of Appeals’ remand of the 2016 rule, in which the agency waived 500 million gallons of biofuel use. “The biodiesel industry asks EPA to fulfill the Court’s clear direction to restore the 500 million gallons from 2016. The agency has recognized that it must ensure that the RFS volumes are met. EPA must be consistent.”