EPA Releases Final 2018 Renewable Fuel Mandates

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on November 30 finalized its renewable fuel volume mandates for 2018.  The final renewable volume obligations (RVOs) are very similar to the Agency’s original proposed mandates that were released in July. 

In establishing the 2018 RVOs, EPA exercised its waiver authority to lower the volume requirements for cellulosic and advanced biofuel below the levels that Congress established when it first enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) more than a decade ago.  Those levels, which are outlined in the tables below, represent the quantity of renewable fuel that fuel refiners and importers are responsible for demonstrating has been introduced into the U.S. fuel supply.

As a general matter, NATSO is supportive of the approach EPA has historically taken and continues to take in establishing the RVOs:  The Agency appears to want to encourage as much renewable fuel blending as possible while remaining cognizant of market realities with respect to how much renewable fuel the market is capable of absorbing.  That being said, NATSO believes that the RVO for biomass-based diesel (biodiesel), which for the first time in the RFS’s history has been flatlined as opposed to growing from the previous year, is decidedly less ambitious than it could have been.

Both the refining community and the renewable fuels community are expected to sue the EPA over these mandates, with refiners arguing that the numbers are too high and the biodiesel community arguing that they are too low.  From NATSO’s perspective, the numbers represent a general continuation to the Obama Administration’s approach to the RFS, although the current EPA appears intent on slowing the program’s growth relative to previous years.

Below are the final 2019 percentage standards under the RFS (which are used by obligated parties to ascertain the quantity of RINs they are required to acquire and retire) and the volume of renewable fuel that EPA used to inform those final percentage standards.

Volumes Used to Determine the Final Percentage Standards
  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Cellulosic biofuel 123 mill gal 230 mill gal 311 mill gal 288 mill gal n/a
Biomass-based diesel 1.73 bill gal 1.90 bill gal 2.0 bill gal 2.1 bill gal 2.1 bill gal
Advanced biofuel 2.88 bill gal 3.61 bill gal 4.28 bill gal 4.29 bill gal n/a
Total renewable fuels 16.93 bill gal 18.11 bill gal 19.28 bill gal 19.29 bill gal n/a

All volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel which is actual.

Final Percentage Standards
  2015 2016 2017 2018
Cellulosic biofuel 0.069% 0.128% 0.173% 0.160%
Biomass-based diesel 1.49% 1.59% 1.67% 1.74%
Advanced biofuel 1.62% 2.01% 2.38% 2.37%
Total renewable fuels 9.52% 10.10% 10.70% 10.67%

More information on the Final Renewable Fuel Standards for 2018, and the Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2019 is available here.

NATSO’s two comment filings with EPA on the proposed rule are available here and here.

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David Fialkov

David Fialkov is the Vice President of Government Relations, as well as the Legislative and Regulatory Counsel, at NATSO. In this capacity, Mr. Fialkov direct's NATSO's legislative, regulatory, and legal strategy on a range of issues, including transportation, energy and fuels, labor, data security, and taxes. Mr. Fialkov also oversees NATSO's political engagement program, including individualized legal and political counsel to member companies. Prior to joining NATSO, Mr. Fialkov was the senior associate in the Government Affairs and Public Policy practice at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C. At Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov advised clients on legislative, regulatory, and political issues, as well as legal concerns. His primary clients included trade associations representing the motor fuel wholesale and retail industries, including the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America. Mr. Fialkov's focus was not only on the motor fuels business, but also the litany of other issues that retailers confront, including labor matters, foodservice issues, healthcare and employment issues, tax matters and data security. Prior to joining Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov graduated with honors from George Washington University Law School. He received his B.S. Summa cum laude with highest honors from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Allison and daughter Lilah. More
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