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Biofuel industry suggests regulatory reforms

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In response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s request for comments following President Donald Trump’s executive order, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” several biofuel groups commented on concerns with regulations that hinder the growth of American biofuels.

The executive order is largely aimed at reducing burdensome regulations. The industry’s goal in submitting these comments to EPA is to make it easier to administer the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program and to support the increased use of biofuels.

Chiefly, Growth Energy urged the agency to administer the RFS as enacted into law by Congress and make every effort to get annual renewable volume obligations proposed, out for public comment and finalized in a timely manner.

Also related to the RFS, Growth Energy called on EPA to finalize its denial of the petition to change the point of obligation.

Another key issue in Growth Energy’s comments was a request for EPA to work with Congress to support legislation to fix the vapor pressure disparity among ethanol-blended fuels so American drivers and retailers alike may choose E15 – fuel blended with 15% ethanol.

Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA) president and chief executive officer Bob Dinneen said unnecessary regulatory barriers to year-round sales of E15 are the “most-pressing agency-imposed restriction.”

EPA could either apply the existing 1 psi Reid vapor pressure (RVP) volatility waiver for 10% ethanol to all fuel blends containing more than 9% ethanol by volume, or EPA could promulgate rules requiring a 1 psi reduction in the maximum allowable RVP of conventional gasoline blendstock during the summer ozone control season.

“Securing equal RVP treatment for all ethanol blends is our top priority this year,” Dinneen said. “Simply put, consumers are being denied access to a lower-cost, higher-octane fuel simply because of antiquated EPA regulations that offer absolutely no environmental benefit.”

Among other actions EPA should take to reform existing regulations and remove unnecessary burdens, RFA’s comments recommend:

  •          Streamlining survey programs intended to monitor and verify fuel quality and regulatory compliance, and consider eliminating costly surveys that offer little or no regulatory benefit.
  •          Reforming the petition process for new certification fuels (e.g., high-octane mid-level blends like E25 or E30) and eliminating unreasonable criteria for approval;
  •          Eliminating unnecessarily burdensome and costly requirements related to the registration process for new fuels and additives;
  •          Leveling the playing field for credit generation for all alternative fuel vehicles, including flexible fuel vehicles, under the 2017-25 fuel economy and light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas program (CAFE/GHG);
  •          Reducing EPA’s workload and eliminating a costly administrative burden by revising the agency’s outdated life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis of corn ethanol;
  •          Including the impact of fuel properties (e.g., octane rating) on fuel economy and emissions in analyses related to the Midterm Evaluation of 2022-25 CAFE/GHG standards;
  •          Rejecting the results of the “EPAct/V2/E-89 Fuel Effects Study” and suspending further use or development of the MOVES2014 model until a new emissions study based on appropriate test fuels is conducted;
  •          Eliminating unnecessary regulatory barriers to cellulosic ethanol production from corn kernel fiber.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) provided comments on five subjects: (1) funding for additional guidance and compliance assistance, (2) RFS implementing regulations, (3) the proposed Renewable Enhancement & Growth Support (REGS) rule, (4) product transfer documents and (5) vehicle regulations.

Specifically, NBB requests that EPA add approved feedstocks to Table 1, clearly define heating oil for biodiesel, raise the threshold for upward delegation of renewable identification number assignments, provide funding for additional guidance and compliance assistance, reconsider the CARBIO program and maintain or increase RFS volume requirements. In the comments, NBB also suggests changes to the proposed REGS rule, product transfer document requirements and vehicle regulations.

“These suggestions would lighten the load of overburdened EPA staff and streamline some burdensome processes for participants of the program. Taken together, these adjustments would continue to support the growing biodiesel industry,” NBB vice president of federal affairs Anne Steckel said.

“By removing these barriers, our industry can continue its success to create jobs, improve our agriculture and rural economies, increase our energy security and improve our nation’s environment,” Growth Energy stated in its comments.

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