EPA increases 2019 mandate for fuel made from plant and animal waste

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday announced it will be increasing the amount of advanced biofuels refiners must sell in 2019 by 15 percent.

Under the new mandate, fuel refiners must sell 4.92 billion gallons of advanced biofuels made from plant and animal waste mixed with fossil fuels. The number is a noticeable increase from the agency’s initial June proposal of 4.88 billion gallons and up from last year’s 4.29 billion.

Under the 2005 U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refiners must blend portions of biofuels into their fuel each year or buy credits from others that do.

For conventional biofuels made from crops like ethanol, the EPA will keep the requirement the same at the 15 billion gallon target set by Congress.

“Issuing the annual renewable volume obligations rule on time is extremely important to all stakeholders impacted by the Renewable Fuel Standard program,” EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement, making a jab at the Obama administration.

“Unlike the previous administration, the Trump administration has consistently met the deadline on time and fulfilled our commitment to provide stability to the program and greater certainty to farming and refining communities across the country,” he said.

The new standards come as the Trump administration has hinted that it supports increased biofuel blending in fuels, a perspective championed by major farming states but rejected by oil and gas producers.

Trump in October directed the EPA to allow the sale of gasoline blended with 15 percent of ethanol year round. Previously the higher blend of ethanol in gas was banned in summer months due to ground-ozone pollution caused by burning ethanol in warmer months.

The RFS policy is a big boon to farmers due to its help creating a market for biofuels, but compliance often steeply costs oil refiners.