EPA Seeks to Reduce Biofuel Blend Rules

Total renewable fuel volumes for 2020 would be set at 17.13 billion gallons.

December 08, 2021


ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Biden Administration has proposed a cut on the amount of biofuels U.S. oil refiners were required to blend in 2020, reports Reuters.

Under the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) proposal, total renewable fuel volumes would be retroactively set at 17.13 billion gallons for 2020—down from a previously finalized rule for the year of 20.09 billion gallons, which was set before the coronavirus pandemic hit. In 2021, fuel refiners and importers would be required to use 18.52 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2021 and 20.77 billion gallons for 2022. For 2022, as much as 15 billion gallons could be fulfilled from conventional renewable fuels, such as corn-based ethanol, with the remaining 5.77 billion gallons coming from advanced biofuel.

Both the 2020 and 2021 figures mark a reduction from 2019, when the EPA had required refiners to blend 19.92 billion gallons of biofuels in the nation's fuel mix, but the 2022 proposal marks an increase.

Additionally, the EPA proposed to reject 65 pending applications or small refinery exemptions requested by fuel producers seeking to be excused from blending mandates for financial reasons. A court decision recently narrowed the situations in which the agency can grant exemptions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also announced $700 million in grants to biofuel producers as COVID-19 relief and an additional $100 million in support for biofuel infrastructure.

Last month, the EPA proposed a rule change that would extend the deadlines for oil refiners to meet the 2020 and 2021 biofuel blending requirements.

Each year under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must calculate and promulgate Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) that ensure the program’s requirements are met in the upcoming year. The deadline each year is Nov. 30.

The EPA previously extended the 2019 compliance deadline for small refineries (from March 31, 2020, to Nov. 30, 2021) and the 2020 compliance deadline (from March 31, 2021, to Jan. 31, 2022) earlier this year. The agency is proposing to further extend these deadlines.