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Letter: In response to the RFS program

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Below are highlights from a letter sent by the API’s Bob Greco, and the AFPM’s Richard Moskowitz to the EPA in response to ‘Renewable Fuel Standard Program: Standards for 2014, 2015 and 2016 and Biomass Based Diesel Volume for 2017, Docked ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0111.’

In support

“API and AFPM support EPA’s long overdue recognition of the E10 blendwall (the ethanol saturation point for gasoline which should take into account the demand for E10 and other limitations on using gasoline blends with more than 10% ethanol).”

“AFPM and API fully support EPA’s decision to exercise a combination of the Agency’s cellulosic biofuel and general waiver authorities to reduce the volumes of renewable fuel for 2014, 2015, and 2016. The waivers take into account the ethanol blendwall and the limitations on the ability to blend additional renewable fuel into the Nation’s fuel supply. This action, with some additional alteration in required volumes, will help avoid the significant economic consequences of the E10 blendwall.”

Concerns and recommendations

“Despite API and AFPM’s support for these actions, however, we continue to have serious concerns regarding EPA’s Proposed Rule, and offer the following recommendations to address these concerns.

“AFPM and API believe that adjustments should be made to EPA’s proposed waiver for the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes for 2016. Although EPA correctly acknowledges the potential adverse effects of the E10 blendwall, the proposed volumes continue to suffer from several methodological flaws…As a result, EPA’s proposed advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes for 2016 exceed the maximum volume of renewable fuel that can be expected to be consumed. In particular, EPA’s decision to establish a 2016 standard that requires ethanol to be blended with gasoline in amounts that exceed the E10 saturation point is divorced from market reality.

“API and AFPM believe that adjustments should be made to EPA’s proposed waiver for the cellulosic biofuel volume for 2016. The D.C. Circuit has previously held that EPA must ‘take neutral aim at accuracy’ in establishing the proposed cellulosic biofuel requirements. The Proposed Rule fails to satisfy this requirement because it relies on inaccurate methods for forecasting cellulosic biofuel production, including forecasts from cellulosic biofuel manufacturers that have historically overestimated actual production. EPA has also violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to disclose the Energy Information Administration’s estimates of cellulosic biofuel production, which EPA must use as the basis for its cellulosic biofuel volume requirements.

“Although AFPM and API support EPA’s proposal to grant waivers based on a determination of inadequate domestic supply, the Proposed Rule fails to address whether a waiver is necessary because the statutory volume requirements would severely harm the economy, even though EPA has substantial evidence that a waiver is needed to avoid such harm. EPA should consider both statutory grounds for granting a waiver of the statutory requirements for 2015 and 2016, and should exercise its general waiver authority on both grounds.

“API and AFPM believe that, for future rulemakings, EPA must adhere to the statutorily, mandated due dates for RFS implementation rules, and it should acknowledge in this rulemaking that its failure to do so harms obligated parties, renewable fuel producers, and ultimately consumers.”

“AFPM and API believe that EPA’s biomass based diesel proposals for 2014, 2015 and 2016 ignore specific statutory language that prohibits the Agency from increasing the biomass based diesel standard without first applying specifically enumerated statutory criteria and providing obligated parties 14 months’ lead time before compliance is required. We also note that EPA would be acting outside of its statutory authority if it altered the biomass based diesel standard for 2017, unless it issued such standard prior to November 1, 2015.”


“In conclusion, EPA’s action to waive the 2014, 2015 and 2016 RFS volume standards is appropriate and necessary. We do not support the proposed volumes of biomass based diesel, nor do we support EPA’s aggressive projections of E85 consumption and cellulosic biofuel production. To fully address the problems with the ethanol blendwall, EPA should finalise the 2014 and 2015 percentage standards proposed (except biomass based diesel), and further reduce the final 2016 standards to reflect market realities.”

Edited from letter by Claira Lloyd

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