EPA to publish E15, waiver comment regulations Jan. 19
The Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to publish today in the Federal Register a proposed rule on E15 label revisions and underground storage tank compatibility, and separately a request for comment on petitions from refiners and governors of oil states for waivers under the 2019 and 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard compliance years.
The decision to publish the regulations the day before President Donald Trump leaves office means that the final decisions on these issues will be left to the Biden administration.
American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings said, “ACE strongly supports EPA’s proposal to make E15 more accessible to retailers and motorists, but once again, the Trump EPA has chosen to bundle a promise to do right by ethanol with a poison pill gift to oil refiners.”
“EPA relied on a similarly distorted game plan when it allowed the use of E15 year-round but nullified the potential upside of that rule with scores of illegal refinery waivers of the RFS,” Jennings said.
“We’ll work diligently with the incoming Biden administration to open new markets for low carbon fuels and quickly dispense with these disingenuous RFS waiver requests.”
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said the general waiver request proposal “is nothing more than one last desperate attempt by the refiners to undermine the RFS and protect their chokehold on the nation’s fuel markets.”
“But it cannot succeed because EPA has no authority to waive RFS volumes unless the petitioners show that the RFS itself is the cause of the ‘severe economic harm’ to a state, region, or the nation,” Cooper said.
“Such a showing would be impossible, especially because the renewable fuel blending requirements have already adjusted lower in tandem with COVID-related changes in gasoline and diesel consumption. In reality, the general waiver requests submitted to EPA come nowhere close to satisfying the well-defined statutory criteria and requirements established for requesting a waiver.”
But Cooper added, “RFA is pleased to see that EPA is finally issuing its long-awaited proposal to remove unnecessary barriers to E15 expansion in the marketplace. We have long supported reforms and changes to the E15 pump label, which has deterred American drivers from using the lower-carbon, lower-cost, more-efficient E15 blend.”
“We also agree that EPA’s current regulations regarding the compatibility of underground storage tanks should be revisited and we are pleased to see that issue being addressed in this proposal. We continue to analyze the E15 proposal and are working with the retail sector to understand how these proposed changes may affect the marketplace.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said, “We are pleased to see this first step toward removing onerous labeling and underground tank requirements and expanding access to E15 for American drivers.”
“With 95% of vehicles approved for E15 and over 18 billion miles driven on the fuel, the best outcome for this rulemaking is to remove the label entirely,” Skor said.
“As the rulemaking process advances, we look forward to working with the incoming Biden administration to ensure that the final rule addresses any remaining retail and infrastructure barriers that currently hold back cleaner, more affordable options at the fuel pump.”
“Despite this potential progress on E15, important work remains to defeat the offensive attempt by refiners to avoid their biofuel blending obligations through general waivers.
“Given President-elect Biden’s commitments on the campaign trail, we‘re confident his incoming team will uphold the integrity of the RFS and reject these oil-backed waiver requests before rural recovery is derailed. We’ve seen the courts reject this kind of abuse before and urge the incoming administration to ensure refiners meet their blending obligations.”
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