EPA denies petition to waive advanced biofuels requirements

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By Chris Prentice | NEW YORK

NEW YORK U.S. environmental regulators have
denied a request from oil refiners to waive some of their
advanced biofuels use requirements from 2016, in what is likely
to be one of the Obama Administration’s final decisions on the
controversial program.

The denial, published on Environmental Protection Agency’s
website on Wednesday, comes just days before President-elect
Donald Trump takes office and as his nominee for EPA chief was
being questioned in a Senate hearing.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program was signed into
law in 2005 and designed to boost a renewable fuel industry
annually. It requires oil companies to use increasing volumes of
biofuels including cellulosic ethanol, which is produced of
plant waste material.

AFPM and others from the oil industry have spent years
lobbying EPA to lower the biofuels requirements, saying they are
unachievable.

The EPA in a Jan. 17 letter to the American Fuel and
Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) said it was denying the
group’s request to waive some of the volumes that previously the
agency said would be required for use in 2016, citing short
supplies.

Oil groups have previously taken EPA to court over these
waivers. In December 2016, AFPM asked the EPA to waive the
requirements that were in excess of real production of the
advanced fuel last year.

The agency established a waiver credit system to help oil
companies meet annual targets set by Congress for required use
of cellulosic ethanol, a biofuel made of plant waste.
Development of this advanced fuel industry has been slower than
lawmakers expected when they established annual targets in 2007.

AFPM said total cellulosic production was below the total
requirements targeted for 2016 last year, and monthly data from
EPA through November suggests that to be the case.

However, EPA said in its statement that the supplies are
adequate based on last year’s production and carryover stocks of
compliance credits from previous years.

EPA added the companies also can buy waiver credits as an
alternative. The agency set the requirements for use of
cellulosic biofuel at 230 million gallons for 2016.

AFPM did not respond immediately to request for comment.



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