RFS Moves to OMB

Deadline for RFS Renewable Volume Obligation Numbers is Nov. 30

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The latest proposed renewable volume obligations in the Renewable Fuel Standard were sent to the White House for review Thursday. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- The 2018 proposed renewable volume obligations in the Renewable Fuel Standard were sent to the Office of Management and Budget at the White House late Thursday, according to the OMB website.

The White House is expected to complete its review of the proposed rule within the next 90 days, although it may take just 30 days. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal would set RVOs for 2018 and Biomass Based Diesel Volume for 2019, http://bit.ly/….

The deadline for the final rule is Nov. 30. After the proposal is issued, that is followed by a public comment period and public hearing.

Back in May 2016 when EPA released its proposal that called for 14.8 billion gallons of corn ethanol in the RFS as an implied number, ethanol industry officials cried foul, saying the industry had the ability to produce above and beyond the 15-billion-gallon cap.

At the time, EPA made the case gasoline consumption estimates were too low to support 15 billion gallons of ethanol in the fuel supply.

The total blend obligation for 2017 was finalized at 19.28 billion gallons. That included 4.28 billion gallons of advanced biofuel and 311 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. That means the implied blend obligation for conventional biofuels including corn ethanol was set at 15 billion gallons. The EPA had proposed a 14.8-billion-gallon mandate for corn ethanol back in May 2016.

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In March of this year, a bipartisan group of senators joined a growing chorus of voices opposing any changes to the point of obligation in the RFS.

A group of 23 senators, including 17 Democrats and six Republicans, wrote to President Donald Trump asking him to leave the point of obligation unchanged.

There was a stir earlier this year over news reports that the White House was considering an executive order to change the point of obligation. An executive order never materialized. The point of obligation determines which businesses are responsible for meeting the biofuels mandates.

E15 BILL MOVES

Also on Thursday, Politico reported that Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., had agreed to support a Congressional Review Act resolution to eliminate an Obama administration methane rule, in exchange for Fischer's bill to allow for year-round E15 sales to move to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for a markup.

For years, the ethanol industry has called on the EPA to equalize the Reid vapor pressure, or RVP, regulations for E10 and E15 during the summer driving season. Because of those requirements, E15 has largely not been available to some wholesale suppliers and retailers during the summer. The industry has contended that adding 5% more ethanol in the summer would actually reduce tailpipe emissions.

Back in March, Sens. Fischer; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced legislation to extend the RVP waiver to ethanol blends above E10. In the House, Reps. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., introduced similar legislation.

Ethanol increases the RVP, which measures the release of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. The RVP for gasoline is the lowest, or most stringent, during the summer months when the weather is hot. E10 currently receives an RVP waiver, which keeps the fuel in compliance with RVP requirements year-round. However, E15 is not given the same waiver, so it can't be sold in the summer.

The EPA regulates RVP for gasoline and gasoline-ethanol blended from June 1 to Sept. 15, restricting the retail sale of ethanol blends above E10.

According to Growth Energy E15 currently is sold at 650 locations in 28 states.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(CC/AG)

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Todd Neeley