In a victory for environmental groups, a federal appeals court told the EPA to consider the effect of the ethanol mandate on endangered animals and plants. The ruling applied to the 2019 RFS but held implications for the agency's development of the RFS for future years.
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 average gallon of gasoline sold during 2020 was 10.23 percent ethanol, the highest blend rate ever, said the Renewable Fuels Association. At the same time, 12.63 billion gallons of the biofuel were mixed into gasoline, the smallest amount in 11 years, declining in tandem with the reduction in travel and fuel sales that accompanied the pandemic, said the trade group.
In a reversal from the Trump era, the EPA said on Monday that it supports an appellate court ruling that greatly reduces the availability to small refineries of exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard. The agency is not acting on requests for RFS waivers while the appellate ruling is under …
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.
The ethanol industry, which says it has lost $3.8 billion in sales since March, is looking to the Biden administration for relief at the same time that farm groups want the new president to resolve the trade war with China. But a Purdue University professor said it was unlikely Biden would immediately undertake broad-scale trade reform, pointing out that "he has other priorities that take precedence."
Despite entreaties from ethanol makers and farm groups, the EPA missed the statutory deadline on Monday to finalize the Renewable Fuel Standard, which assures a share of the gasoline market for biofuels such as corn ethanol, for 2021. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler has pointed to the steep …