Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an agreement that includes actions to modify and expand the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The actions are listed below.

  • In a forthcoming supplemental notice building off the recently proposed 2020 Renewable Volume Standards and the Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2021, EPA will propose and request public comment on expanding biofuel requirements beginning in 2020.
  • EPA will seek comment on actions to ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning in 2020, and that the volume obligation for biomass-based diesel is met. This will include accounting for relief expected to be provided for small refineries. EPA intends to take final action on this front later this year.
  • Building on the President’s earlier decision to allow year-round sales of E15, EPA will initiate a rulemaking process to streamline labeling and remove other barriers to the sale of E15.
  • EPA will continue to evaluate options for RIN market transparency and reform.
  • USDA will seek opportunities through the budget process to consider infrastructure projects to facilitate higher biofuel blends.
  • The Administration will continue to work to address ethanol and biodiesel trade issues.

EPA sent its annual renewable volume obligations (RVO) rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on July 5. By statute, RVOs must be finalized by November 30. EPA’s announcement today would modify the 2020 RVOs, including exceeding the annual 15 billion gallon statutory limit on conventional corn ethanol.

Therefore, EPA would likely need to modify its interpretation of the original RFS statute in order to exceed the 15-billion-gallon limit. The agency would also likely need to modify its 2020 RVO rule, currently under review at OMB, based on today’s announcement, throwing into question its ability to finalize a 2020 RVO by the November 30 deadline.

“Proposing more than the 15 billion gallon statutory limit in an uncertain corn market underscores the need to restore the RFS “off-ramp,” which is included in the 2007 statute,” said NCC President Mike Brown.  “We look forward to and welcome the opportunity to comment on these proposals, and will specifically urge EPA to once again provide a more workable and transparent off-ramp process for times of economic stress on chicken producers.”

 

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