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Comment deadline nears for EPA’s proposed RFS volumes

Administration urged to take corrective action in RFS rule-making to uphold 15 billion gal. ethanol mandate.

Comments continue to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency in response to EPA’s supplemental proposed rule for the 2020 volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The deadline for public comments on the issue is Nov. 29.

As of Nov. 25, nearly 8,000 comments had been filed with EPA regarding the rule.

The National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) submitted comments Nov. 25. Rather than addressing the impact of waived renewable fuel gallons based on exemptions actually granted by EPA, the proposed rule would use a three-year average of U.S. Department of Energy recommended waivers. By using DOE recommendations instead of actual waived gallons, EPA’s proposal to redistribute any future waived gallons is half of what President Donald Trump previously committed to farm-state Senators.

“EPA’s proposal does not ensure sufficiently accurate projections for waived gallons and, therefore, will continue to shortchange the RFS when waivers are granted,” NCGA president Kevin Ross wrote. “Farmers are once again asking EPA to uphold the law and the integrity of the RFS.”

Since early 2018, EPA has granted 85 RFS exemptions to refineries for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 RFS compliance years, totaling 4.04 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel.

NCGA said more than 1,900 corn farmers have submitted comments to EPA urging the agency to follow the law and uphold the President’s commitment to farmers and the RFS.

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R., S.D.), Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), Deb Fischer (R., Neb.), Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) and Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) renewed their recommendations to Trump with respect to EPA’s proposed RFS supplemental rule. The letter, which enclosed their initial comments to EPA, urges the Administration to take corrective action in its RFS rule-making to uphold the agreement reached between Trump and midwestern senators on Sept. 12, 2019.

“This supplemental rulemaking is an opportunity to definitively restore integrity to the RFS, provide certainty for American agriculture and further bolster our energy independence,” the senators wrote. “We are confident that reverting to the agreed upon framework to account for actual waived gallons will deliver on your agenda to support thousands of agriculture jobs throughout the Midwest and nation.” 

The comments echo an earlier letter to the President from a broad coalition of 61 biofuel and farm organizations.

“The flawed proposal swaps out a critical component of the SRE [small refinery exemption] remedy sought by farmers and the biofuels industry,” wrote farm and biofuel leaders. “Instead of recovering the gallons exempted by EPA, it proposes to recover only those gallons previously recommended for exemption by the U.S. Department of Energy. This one EPA modification converts a commitment to fully account for SREs into a bureaucratically uncertain path that recovers only one fraction of those gallons lost to SREs and could result in RFS backsliding in 2020. This lack of certainty sabotages efforts toward market recovery and will stop biorefineries from reopening.”

Submit comments here on the proposed RFS levels.

 

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