The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday formally proposed pushing back the 2020 and 2021 deadlines for refiners to report compliance with federal biofuel blending mandates.
The proposed extension of Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) required under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would also amend the 2019 deadline, but only for small refineries.
Nov. 30 is currently the 2019 RVO compliance deadline for small refineries, while Jan. 31, 2022 is the 2020 deadline and March 31, 2022 is the 2021 deadline for all refineries.
EPA did not list specific extension dates in its proposed rule.
The agency said the extensions were necessary because of “continued delay in the promulgation of the 2021 RFS standards and uncertainty around EPA’s small refinery exemption (SRE) policy.”
The latter point stems from a pair of federal court decisions that allow small refineries to receive exemptions under RFS, but still permits EPA to limit those exemptions.
The former point is linked to EPA’s own delays in issuing a rule to set obligations for 2021 or 2022. A proposed rule, filed in August, is still under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
“We recognize the importance to obligated parties of planning their compliance for a given calendar year by understanding their obligations for the years before and after,” the agency wrote.
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said the delays and passive communication are contributing to speculation the Biden administration may reduce ethanol targets.
“This administration ... is headed down a dangerous path as it continues to pass up opportunities to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard and support America’s ethanol and biodiesel producers,” Davis said, citing unreturned letters he and other House Republicans sent to the White House.
“We encourage the president to keep his 2020 promises to rural America and actually uphold the law,” Davis said.
Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, said Thursday EPA should immediately release the 2021 and 2022 RVOs.
“Further delaying compliance deadlines for previous RVO years does nothing but contribute to ongoing uncertainty in the marketplace,” Skor said in a statement. “Sadly, even as our country faces rising gas prices, the EPA and the Biden Administration continue to give in to the loud voices of the oil industry without considering their detrimental impact on rural America.”
Renewable Fuel Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper also weighed in Thursday, saying, “there’s no good reason for EPA to kick the can down the road again.”
“We had hoped things would be different under this administration, but EPA continues to miss its deadlines and create confusion in the marketplace,” Cooper said in a statement. “The rural economy needs and deserves the market certainty and predictability the Renewable Fuel Standard was intended to provide.”