EPA to hold biofuels quota steady in 2018
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has backed off its proposal to slightly cut the federal biofuels mandate.
The agency finalized a rule Thursday that would instead hold blending quotas under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) flat for 2018.
The rule will require refiners to mix 19.29 billion gallons of renewable fuels into the gasoline supply in 2018. That’s about 25 percent lower than the target Congress established in a 2007 law, but the EPA has routinely finalized RFS blending quotas below the statutory requirements.
EPA regulators will require refiners to blend 15 billion gallons of conventional corn-based ethanol into the fuel supply, as well as 4.29 billion gallons of advanced biofuels. The agency will also mandate 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel to be blended into the diesel fuel supply.
In July, the EPA proposed an overall 19.25 billion-gallon blending target, a level that included cuts to the biodiesel target.
“Maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard at current levels ensures stability in the marketplace and follows through with my commitment to meet the statutory deadlines and lead the agency by upholding the rule of law,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.
The RFS mandates how much ethanol and other biofuels refiners are required to mix into the fuel supply. Biofuels producers have long pushed the EPA to scale up the quotas, while refiners and the oil industry have urged the opposite.
Biofuels producers and lawmakers from agriculture states urged the EPA to back off its July proposal to trim the mandate. President Trump, who ran on a platform of supporting the RFS, personally asked Pruitt not to change the biofuels standard last month.
Potential changes to the RFS became a sticking point in Senate negotiations over EPA nominees earlier this year. Midwestern GOP lawmakers had threatened to hold up the nomination of William Wehrum to lead the EPA’s air and radiation office if they didn’t receive assurances on the biofuels mandate.
Once Pruitt committed to not change the program, the Republicans dropped their objections and confirmed Wehrum to the post.