US EPA trying to get biofuel blending law on track to grow biofuel use -EPA

FILE PHOTO: An ethanol plant with its giant corn silos next to a cornfield
FILE PHOTO: An ethanol plant with its giant corn silos next to a cornfield in Windsor, Colorado July 7, 2006/File Photo

February 22, 2022

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) -The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ensuring its decision on the nation’s biofuels law is made in a transparent way to get the law “back on track” and put the renewable fuel’s use on a sustainable trajectory for growth, an agency official said on Tuesday.

The Biden administration is open to using every tool to fight climate change in the transportation sector, which includes biofuels, said EPA’s Sarah Dunham, director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, at the National Ethanol Conference in New Orleans.

Both oil refiners and corn-based ethanol producers are paying close attention to the agency’s planned sweeping decisions on the Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation’s biofuel blending law, which is due to enter a new phase at the end of the year.

Under the RFS, oil refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s fuel mix, or buy credits from those that do. Oil refiners historically have been able to receive waivers to the obligations, known as Small Refinery Exemptions, if they can prove the rules cause them financial harm.

The Trump administration about quadrupled the number of exemptions it gave out, stoking anger from biofuel groups that claim the waivers hurt ethanol demand. The oil industry disputes that and says the waivers help keep small refiners afloat.

Last year, the EPA proposed denying all pending SREs. It will take final action on that proposal after fully considering stakeholder comments submitted on the action, Dunham said.

(Reporting by Stephanie KellyEditing by Marguerita Choy)

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