In November, 2013, EPA announced a highly contentious proposal that lowered the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard targets below their 2013 levels. These targets apply to the amount of renewable fuels that are blended into the nation’s gasoline supply. A year later, EPA abandoned the proposal after significant push back from the renewable fuel industry, agreeing to reconsider the 2014 targets. EPA has yet to reissue the proposal.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) filed a lawsuit over the delay, contending that they are left guessing how much ethanol they were required to use last year. As part of a proposed settlement, EPA announced on April 10 that they will finalize targets for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by November 30, 2015. Proponents have lauded the settlement, suggesting that regulatory certainty will help generate investment in renewables, yet some within the renewable fuel industry are stressing the need for EPA to get it right rather than just done quickly.
At issue is the precedent that will be established by the final 2014 targets. As part of the abandoned proposal for 2014, EPA claimed authority to waive some of the statutorily set volume requirements, citing lower than expected gasoline demand and a set of concerns known as the “blend wall.” Despite suggesting that they will set the 2014 requirements based on the actual volumes used, EPA has not indicated what those targets will be. Many in the renewable fuel industry are concerned that EPA will again waive some of the requirements, compromising the future of the program and billions in investment.