LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- With a deadline fast approaching for EPA to release a Renewable Fuel Standard volumes proposal for 2023, the agency received a two-week extension Friday to Nov. 30 as part of a consent decree with Growth Energy.
The EPA reportedly will remain on track to finalize the volumes by June 14, 2023, as part of the decree agreed to as part of a lawsuit filed by Growth Energy.
"We agreed to EPA's request for a two-week extension on the condition that Nov. 30 will be the final deadline and there will be no further extensions of any deadline for action, as underscored in the stipulation document filed today," Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said in a news release.
"While any delay is unfortunate, this shift in timing only impacts the proposal. Importantly, the deadline for EPA's final rule remains in place for June 14, 2023. Should the new proposal deadline pass without EPA action, Growth Energy stands ready to pursue further enforcement with the court. EPA cannot miss this opportunity to usher in a new era for the RFS and expand the critical role biofuels play in mitigating climate change and lowering prices at the pump."
On July 22, 2022, Growth Energy and EPA submitted a consent decree agreement to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The agreement was reached when Growth Energy filed a notice of intention to sue EPA for failing to meet RFS deadlines.
In February 2022, Growth Energy reached a settlement with EPA to finalize 2021 and 2022 volumes by June 3, 2022.
Growth Energy filed a complaint on Feb. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as part of the settlement process.
In that complaint, Growth Energy sued the agency for missing RFS deadlines.
While Growth Energy at the time lauded the settlement as a victory, the agency was statutorily required to finalize 2021 and 2022 volumes by Nov. 30, 2021.
EPA is required to set RFS volumes at least 14 months prior to the calendar year when they are to take effect. EPA is required by law for each year starting in 2023, to set the volume of advanced renewable fuel at least at the same percentage as the volume of the total renewable fuel requirement established in 2022.
In December 2020, Growth Energy submitted a notice of intent to sue EPA for failing to meet the statutory deadline for issuing the 2021 renewable volume obligations.
Late last year, Growth Energy submitted another notice of intent to sue EPA regarding its failure to timely issue the 2022 RVOs, as well as the "set" renewable fuel volumes for 2023.
The Biden administration announced on Dec. 7, 2021, proposed cuts to the RFS, the rejection of all pending small-refinery exemptions and the approval of federal aid to biofuel producers hurt by the COVID-19 economic shutdown.
The EPA finalized retroactive cuts to the corn-ethanol portion of RFS volumes below 15 billion gallons at 12.5 billion for 2020 and sets the level at 13.32 billion for 2021.
The proposal delivered a victory to oil producers who have been asking for cuts to conventional ethanol for some time. The agency would then increase corn-ethanol volumes to 15 billion gallons in 2022.
The negative RFS news for biofuels and agriculture was offset by EPA's rejection of what were 69 small-refinery exemption requests for 2016 through 2021. As part of the announcement, EPA proposed a new method for determining who receives exemptions.
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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