The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final proposed rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during the first week of November. This is the final stage of the review process and is an indication that the Administration is on track to finalize the rule by the court-imposed deadline of Nov. 30.
It also means final attempts from both sides of the issue to make some noise about where they want the agency to land on final volume levels.
Officials at the OMB met with representatives from Valero Energy Corporation on Nov. 10 and are scheduled to sit down over the next few weeks with the National Biodiesel Board, Renewable Fuels Assn., American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and Biogas Researchers Inc., according to meeting records.
Letters to the President and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy are also starting to pick up in the final days.
In a letter to McCarthy dated November 4, 184 House members asked the EPA to reduce the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), including 80 which were identified as being from corn-producing states including House Agriculture Committee chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas. Reports indicated that a lobbyist for Marathon Petroleum was an author for the anti-RFS letter, which used many of the similar talking points the oil industry has used on the blend wall constraints.
At the end of October Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., also led a letter asking the EPA to follow Congressional intent of the RFS law and avoid triggering a provision which allows the agency to reset volumes that are lagging behind due to EPA’s continued delay of RFS implementation.
Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the fact that members of Congress are parroting Big Oil’s blend wall narrative is shameful evidence that money talks. “How can Big Oil explain that, according to data recently released by the Energy Information Agency, in 2013 ethanol comprised more than 10% of gasoline consumption in 22 states and the District of Columbia? This begs the question: What blend wall?”
National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson in a letter to President Obama urged the President to “reject Big Oil’s talking points and stay the course on the RFS.”
On May 29 the EPA proposed levels that were below the congressional levels laid out in the 2007 law, but above levels previously proposed in November 2013. These proposed volumes would allow volumes of conventional (non-advanced) renewable fuel of up to 13.25, 13.40, and 14.00 billion gallons to be used to satisfy the total renewable fuel requirements for years 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively. The original statute called for levels of 14.4 billion gallons for 2014 and 15 for 2015 and 2016. The official public comment period on the EPA Proposed Rule closed on July 27.