Gas lobby pledges to keep up pressure on biofuel program

“I think there’s going to be pressure on the administration to move forward expeditiously. We’re going to continue to make those points with the EPA, with the Congress with the White House as well,” Bob Greco, the American Petroleum Institute’s group downstream director, told reporters on Wednesday.

“The statute is still fundamentally broken, but at a minimum EPA has to use the tools they’ve got,” he added.

In the new standard, which was issued eight months behind schedule on Tuesday, the EPA admitted that it was concerned about the potential hazards of increasing mandates that may require refiners to produce a blend of gas that consumers don’t want. The agency said it would be more flexible in 2014. 

Industry officials have repeatedly voiced their concerns for the situation, which has been termed the “blend wall” and is expected to hit next year.

They said it was a positive sign that the administration recognized the need to address the issue, but are reserving judgment until the EPA acts.

“The proof will be in the pudding,” Greco said.

The Renewable Fuel Standard calls for ever-increasing amounts of biofuel to be blended with traditional gasoline, in an effort to wean Americans off foreign oil and explore new sources of energy.

But the oil-and-gas industry says it’s overly restrictive and no longer necessary in the current economic environment. 

Under the law, next year’s rules are scheduled to be finalized by November, but there are few indications that the EPA will meet that deadline.

“We’ve got to keep pushing them to get back on schedule,” Greco said.

“What we can do is just keep the pressure on the administration to give this the priority it deserves and to get this out per the mandated timeline.”