Next steps following the Trump administration’s biofuel announcement

UPDATE (10/15): The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the supplemental proposal to the 2020 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) today, detailing how the EPA will account for small refinery waivers in biofuel requirements.

The supplemental proposal states the EPA will account for future exemptions based only on recommendations by the Department of Energy (DOE), not the actual number of gallons waived under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA has ignored previous DOE recommendations on waivers in the last three compliance years. Without assurances the EPA will account for each waiver issued, the proposal falls short of ensuring the integrity of the RFS will be maintained.

However, EPA also proposes to change the underlying definitions used in the annual volume setting formula, which could help to ensure that annual volume obligation rules beyond 2020 account for waivers. This is a positive step, although we have concerns about the proposed methodology to account for waivers.

A 30-day comment period on today’s proposal begins Oct. 30. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association will continue its efforts to ensure the final 2020 RVO accounts for all future small refinery waivers. Follow MCGA’s blog, Twitter and Facebook for future updates.

The Oct. 4 biofuel announcement by the Trump administration was a positive first step for the nation’s corn farmers, but many questions remain about the details underlying the agreement included in the release from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Thank you to Minnesota’s corn farmers for the more than 700 messages sent to Washington earlier this year demanding the EPA reallocate the gallons it waived. Strong grassroots efforts will continue to play a vital role to stop destructive actions by the EPA and offset the damage already done.

Highlights from the agreement include supplemental action on the 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard volume rule to account for waived biofuel gallons, streamlined E15 labeling, and a USDA biofuel infrastructure investment program.

Here’s what is next:

Supplemental 2020 RFS Volume Rulemaking

A top ask to EPA and the administration from corn farmers was to account for waivers up front beginning with the 2020 volume rule. EPA will do that by proposing a supplement to the 2020 volume rule and open this proposal to public comments. Timing of finalizing the 2020 volume rule is a little uncertain given the supplemental action EPA plans to take.

The supplement rule is anticipated to be published shortly, and Minnesota’s corn farmers will need to make their voice heard in comments demanding the announced commitment to uphold the RFS is met.

E15 rulemaking

The EPA has committed to issuing a separate proposed rule aimed at removing additional barriers to E15. Part of this proposal is simplifying E15 labeling requirements at the pump. In addition, this proposal may include a waiver allowing equipment approved for E10 to dispense E15—eliminating another barrier to E15 adoption. Currently, most pumps have the ability to pump E15, but outdated restrictions prevent them from doing so.

USDA infrastructure

The USDA will work on a biofuel infrastructure proposal over the coming weeks with an aim of implementing it early next year. A key factor in meeting this commitment to support more infrastructure for higher blends is likely to be funding.

Efforts to recoup waived biofuel gallons

Not included in Friday’s announcement is a direct path to reallocating the more than four billion gallons already waived by the EPA.

Looking forward, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association will continue to work with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) to identify other avenues to recover lost gallons. NCGA’s ongoing litigation over these unjustified waivers, in conjunction with our agriculture and biofuels partners, also continues.

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