OPIS Biofuels Headlines

August 22, 2014
EPA Spokeswoman: Final 2014 RFS Sent to OMB for Review

EPA has sent the final 2014 renewable fuel standard (RFS) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today for interagency review, an EPA spokeswoman confirmed to OPIS.

"After an extensive public outreach process, we've received 340,000 comments that will help inform our final determinations. EPA will issue a final rulemaking after the interagency review process has been completed.... The agency's overarching goal is to put the RFS program on a path that supports continued growth in renewable fuels over time," the spokeswoman added.

EPA's proposed 2014 RFS--issued in November 2013--calls for nearly across-the- board cuts. By statute, the final rule was due by Nov. 30, 2013. With the interagency review expected to take at least 30 days, the final rule is not likely to be released until this fall.

As Kevin Book, managing director of Clearview Energy Partners, explained a note to clients this morning, he would not be surprised if OMB were to replicate last year's relatively quick turn-around time of the 2013 final RFS (34 days). "Should OMB complete its review in 30 days, we would expect the final rule in late September," he wrote.

However, in recent weeks, both Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) have said they don't expect the final rule to be released until after the November mid-term elections.

The rule at OMB also kicks off the last round of stakeholder lobbying.

In a statement issued this morning, National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said the group was "pleased to see the process moving forward and hope the final rule will show that this administration is standing behind our national goals for clean, domestic fuels that strengthen our economy and national security. We also continue to urge the administration to finalize the rule as quickly as possible. The original EPA proposal and continued delays have severely disrupted the U.S. biodiesel industry this year.
We can begin to reverse that damage with a meaningful increase in the biodiesel volume that is finalized as quickly as possible so that producers can ramp up production in a timely fashion," she added.

Similar comment came from Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association. "We hope the final rule will be a major improvement and encourage the White House to set RFS volume obligations at levels that are consistent with our industry's current and projected production capacity for advanced and cellulosic biofuels," he said.

"...[T]his year's RFS requirements are the most delayed in the history of the program," said American Petroleum Institute Downstream Group Director Bob Greco. "We urge the administration to finalize the 2014 rule as soon as possible and start the process of finalizing the 2015 rule to meet the Nov. 30 deadline, as required by law," he added.

After meeting with White House Senior Counselor John Podesta last month, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) told reporters that he was "led to believe" the final 2014 RFS targets would be higher than what was proposed, but may not be as high as biofuel supporters would like.

As Book explained, "[o]ur base case projects that EPA could set the total ethanol requirement to less than 13.6 billion gal [less than the 14.4 billion gal as originally prescribed] and maintain the biomass-based diesel requirement at 1.28 billion gal."

--Rachel Gantz, rgantz@opisnet.com


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