In early July the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the coming year. While the announcement was on time, it still received plenty of criticism.
“We got the we got the proposal out for the RVOs in July and that will put us on the time timeframe of getting them completed in time again this year,” EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler told AgDay host Clinton Griffiths. “[Being on time] provides so much more certainty and transparency to the farmers to the ethanol industry and to the oil and refining industry as well. It's so important to the integrity of the program to get the RVO numbers out on time.”
While ethanol industry leaders were glad to see the volumes released, the actual levels are of under extreme scrutiny.
“Fifteen billion gallons for conventional is sort of status quo,” Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen told AgriTalk host Chip Flory. “A month ago, the administration took a chapter test and they passed with flying colors and in fact, I'd give them an A+ for getting the E15 decision, right. But last Friday was the final exam, and they utterly failed in getting RVOS out that are going to drive the marketplace.”
According to Dinneen, the agency could have increased the levels. However, according to Wheeler they were simply following the statute.
“Well, 15 billion gallons is the level that's in the statute and the statue does have it as 15 billion, capping at 15 billion through 2021 when the program actually sunsets. We know we're following the statute,” he said. “We're looking at what the market can bear and we're looking at the technologies that are out there on the advanced biofuels and the biodiesel as well.”
Dinneen points out a court case that ordered the EPA to increase volumes in 2016.
“[EPA] absolutely, utterly failed, in essentially telling the U.S. Court of Appeals to take a hike. In 2016, when the previous administration, reduce the RFS volumes, we went to court. The court agreed with us that what the EPA done in 2016 was illegal and told EPA, you got to fix this in a future rulemaking,” he explained. “Well, on Friday, they essentially said ‘nah we don't think so.’ It'd be inconvenient for the oil industry to have to address this additional 500 million gallons that you told us we had to fix. Thumbing their nose at the court, thumbing their nose at farmers and ethanol producers, I think earns them a huge F on the final exam last Friday, and I am astounded by it.”
As the EPA prepares for a reset of the RFS, Dinneen is hopeful that President Trump will keep his word and force Wheeler’s hand on upping the RVOs and ending the onslaught of small refinery waivers.
“I hope the President looks Andy Wheeler in the eye and says, ‘young man, you need to do what I keep telling people that we're going to do, and you need to enforce this RFS as it was written in the law,’” he said. “That hasn't happened.”