EPA Strikes Middle Ground in Setting Renewable Fuel Obligations

June 2, 2015

Beating its self-imposed June deadline by one business day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed “renewable volume obligations” (RVOs) for 2014-2016 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program last Friday.

The RVOs tell gasoline and diesel producers and importers how much renewable fuel they have to blend with conventional fuels each year. EPA had fallen behind in setting the RVOs, and industry watchers speculated that the agency might again miss its June 2015 deadline.

The new RVOs call for increases in the volumes of all types of renewable fuels required under the RFS, with the biggest increases slated to come from cellulosic biofuels, a type of fuel with the greatest greenhouse gas advantages over conventional fuel.

The public has until July 27, 2015, to review and comment on the proposed RVOs. While pundits are sure to find fault with the proposal, it seems overall to have struck a middle ground between the ambitious goals Congress set in establishing the program and the pace of actual renewable fuel production.

It appears, for now, that rumors of RFS’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. EPA expects to finalize the 2014 and 2015 RVOs by November 2015.