Ethanol mandate goes to White House for review

A regulation setting the required volumes of ethanol and biodiesel that fuel refiners must use was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review Friday, the final step before the rule mandate can be unveiled.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed last year to reduce the volume of ethanol refiners must blend into gasoline for 2014, while keeping the mandate for biodiesel in diesel the same as the previous year.

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Last year’s proposal proved extremely controversial. The oil industry and other groups opposed to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) applauded it as a recognition of the limits of ethanol and biodiesel, while companies that make the fuels blasted the EPA for turning its back on renewables.

In announcing the White House review, the EPA did not say whether it changed the volumes from last year’s proposal but said it supports the program and wants to increase renewable volumes.

“EPA supports the energy independence and security goals that congress envisioned when establishing the RFS program,” a spokeswoman said. “The agency’s overarching goal is to put the RFS program on a path that supports continued growth in renewable fuels over time.”

The EPA said it received more than 340,000 comments on the proposal, and it will issue the final rule after the White House and other federal agencies weigh in.

Under the law that established the RFS, the EPA is supposed to finalize each year’s volumes in November of the prior year. This year has been the longest delay in the program’s history.

The White House is allowed to take up to 90 days for its review, but can easily extend the timeline if necessary.

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