The upcoming EPA regulatory reset of the Renewable Fuel Standard should push the corn ethanol target above 15 billion gallons for the highest annual mandate ever and allow E15 to be sold year-round, said farm-state senators on Wednesday. In a letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan, the senators urged the agency to establish “robust and expanded” biofuel mandates.
The trade group Growth Energy sued the EPA last month because it was far behind schedule in setting the ethanol mandate for 2023, the first year the agency has a free hand in drafting the regulation. A consent decree, if approved, would resolve the complaint and oblige the EPA to propose the renewable fuel program by Sept. 16 and finalize it by April 23, 2023.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the administration appeared "very close" to releasing a long-promised $700 million in pandemic aid to biofuel producers. The aid was announced in March as part of a remodeling of coronavirus relief programs by the incoming administration.
Farm and ethanol groups said they were confident the EPA will approve few exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard, but they urged the agency on Monday to state how it will run the program in the wake of last week's Supreme Court ruling on waivers.
The ethanol industry is optimistic the Biden administration will issue far fewer exemptions from the ethanol mandate than the Trump administration did despite a Supreme Court setback. Justices overturned, 6-3, an appellate court ruling that greatly restricted the eligibility of small refineries for "hardship" waivers from complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The federal appeals court that greatly restricted access to "hardship" exemptions from the U.S. ethanol mandate in 2020 granted an EPA request on Wednesday to cancel three exemptions issued on President Trump's final day in office.
The Biden administration plans a thorough review of recent EPA decisions involving the federal mandate to mix corn ethanol and other biofuels into gasoline, said Michael Regan, the White House nominee to run the agency, at his Wednesday confirmation hearing. "The RFS is definitely a priority for this administration."
Small oil refineries would have an additional six months to show they had complied with their obligations to mix corn ethanol into gasoline during 2019 under an EPA proposal published on Thursday.
A week after the EPA denied 54 retroactive waivers from the ethanol mandate, farm and biofuel groups urged the Trump administration on Wednesday to take additional steps to assure ethanol's role in the U.S. fuel supply. Their checklist included release of the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2021 and nationwide application of a court decision that greatly restricts RFS exemptions.
With an eye toward shoring up Farm Belt support less than two months before the election, President Trump directed the EPA to deny dozens of oil refiner requests for retroactive waivers from U.S. biofuel laws, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Democrat Tom Vilsack, the former agriculture secretary and Iowa governor, made a virtual campaign sweep through the farm state last week on behalf of Joe Biden, emphasizing that the Democratic presidential nominee was a friend of ethanol. In virtual stops in Sioux City, Mason City, Council …
Biofuels groups hooted at an oil state request that the EPA waive the ethanol mandate because of the coronavirus pandemic. "Nonsensical," said the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) on Thursday. (No paywall)
The Trump administration is siding with Big Oil despite announcing a plan to increase ethanol consumption, farm state senators told the No. 2 USDA official on Thursday. “That’s a president that has chosen oil companies over family farmers,” said one of the critics, Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
The Trump administration responded to months of Farm Belt complaints that it was undermining homegrown biofuels by vowing to increase the ethanol mandate, beginning next year, above the 15-billion-gallon-a-year target that is set by law. Officials did not specify a new figure for corn ethanol usage nor did its package include the oil industry's goal of a cap on the price of credits that refiners must buy if they do not mix enough ethanol into gasoline.
As recently as Wednesday, President Trump lauded farmers as “great patriots” for their forbearance in the face of ag exports lost due to the Sino-U.S. trade war. A handful of corn and soybean farmers active in biofuels policy said on Thursday that there is less patience in farm country for the administration’s handling of the ethanol mandate.
President Trump will meet with oil state senators, possibly this afternoon, as the White House referees a long-running dispute over ethanol’s share of the U.S. fuel supply.
President Trump will soon announce a plan to boost demand for biofuels. At least that’s what Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told participants in a policy forum at the Illinois Farm Progress Show on Wednesday. But no one — including Trump or Perdue — seems to know exactly what that plan will be, let alone when it will be announced or implemented.
A dozen lawmakers called on Wednesday for a review of the explosion in ethanol waivers awarded by the EPA in the past two years. In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, the lawmakers said many of the small-volume refineries that applied for waivers did not need them.
The EPA intends to approve the year-round sale of E15 in time for the summer driving season, said administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday. In proposing an end to the ban on summertime sales, the EPA set a 45-day comment period on its proposal.