CORRECTED-U.S. fuel industry frazzled as Trump EPA misses 2021 biofuel volumes deadline – Successful Farming

(Corrects to clarify oil industry says waivers do not hurt
ethanol demand)

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency was set to miss a deadline on Monday to
announce how much renewable fuel the nation’s refiners must
blend into their fuel mix next year, raising uncertainty in the
fuel market and prompting one biofuel association to threaten to
take the agency to court.

Under federal law, the EPA must finalize its decision on the
annual biofuel blending volume requirements it imposes on the
refining industry for the next year by Nov. 30. The agency did
not respond to requests for comment.

“At this point, it likely makes more sense to let the new
administration handle the 2021 RVO (Renewable Volume
Obligations) rulemaking process entirely,” said Geoff Cooper,
the president of the Renewable Fuels Association, one of the
nation’s biggest biofuel industry groups.

Growth Energy, another U.S. biofuel industry association,
said it intends to file a lawsuit to force the Trump
administration’s EPA to act “immediately.”

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a top
refinery industry association, said it hoped the EPA will “soon
provide certainty” to its members.

Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, refiners must blend
billions of gallons of ethanol and other biofuels into their
fuel pool, or buy credits from those that do – a policy that has
created a huge market for corn-based ethanol but which the oil
industry loathes.

While the Trump administration has mainly hit its deadlines
for setting specific biofuel volumes mandates under the RFS, the
process this year has been complicated by the economic fallout
of the coronavirus pandemic.

Slumping fuel consumption has led refiners to argue for
lower volume mandates to match demand, and biofuels producers to
argue that doing so would only hurt them more.

The EPA has also left unaddressed a number of other
questions that will likely need to be dealt with by the incoming
Biden administration, including requests from oil industry
advocates for the EPA to ease 2020 compliance because of the
impact of the pandemic, and requests from the biofuel industry
for the agency to ditch a waiver program it argued has illegally
eroded demand for ethanol.

The oil industry says that the waivers do not hurt ethanol
demand.
(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York
Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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