UpdateNo decision made yet on changes to RFS: EPA

12 October 2013 00:00  [Source: ICIS news]

(Releads and updates with statement from the EPA)

HOUSTON (ICIS)--No final decision has been made on changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a statement late on Friday.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy issued a statement after media reports on Thursday cited draft documents the news agency had obtained detailing possible changes to the RFS.

Those reports have suggested that the EPA might reduce the 2014 RFS for ethanol from a targeted 18.1bn gal (68.5bn litres) to 15bn gal.

McCarthy called the proposal only a draft and said that the EPA remains committed to biofuels.

Meanwhile, ethanol industry leaders said on Friday that any effort by federal environmental regulators to reduce the mandated amount of biofuels that refiners must use in 2014 would be illegal.

Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), dismissed widespread reports that the EPA is planning to cut back the volume of ethanol that refiners are obliged to blend into the nation’s fuel supply.

“Let me be clear,” Dinneen said. “Any plan to roll back the targets for total renewable fuel in the manner suggested by recent media reports … would be patently unlawful.”

US energy firms and refiners have long complained that the RFS mandates are artificial and do not reflect market realities.

A spokeswoman for the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) said that the refiners’ trade group has not seen any formal numbers on EPA’s 2014 ethanol mandate. 

She said that the EPA RFS mandate for ethanol consumption in 2014 is still under review at the White House and that it did not seem likely that the EPA mandate would be published until the current US federal government shutdown ends.

Dinneen said that word of possible downward adjustments to the RFS consumption targets arose in August when the EPA signalled its authority “to adjust … both the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel categories” for 2014.

Any decision by the EPA to adjust the RFS mandate levels based on market conditions “would send devastating signals to the agriculture sector, investors in next-generation biofuels, automakers, fuel blenders and others up and down the renewable fuels supply chain”, he said.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

(Additional reporting by Joe Kamalick)

By: Jeremy Pafford
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