Pleased in some ways but not satisfied in others sums up renewable industry reaction to EPA’s final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2018, released Thursday. EPA kept the 15 billion gallons requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol in place. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen was happy with that.
“We think that keeps the program on track and we appreciate EPA having listened to the tens of thousands of farmers and ethanol producers and others who commented to EPA to stay the course with respect to conventional,” Dinneen said. “It did also increase slightly the cellulosic ethanol number to 288 million gallons, which is an improvement over what had been proposed, and we are thankful that again they did listen to the comments that were received on that issue.”
But Dinneen says the disappointment is knowing they could have done more. EPA biomass-based diesel volumes were kept the same for 2019 compared to 2018, and advanced biofuels volumes for 2018 were raise slightly over the 2017 number.
The American Soybean Association and National Biodiesel Board’s chief operating officer Doug Whitehead called those decisions a missed opportunity.
“It’s a subtle, very small increase, basically flat on the advanced side,” Whitehead said. “So, what we’ve been saying in letters to the President through our champions to the EPA, we’ve been saying that a flat number would be a negative signal to our industry.”
EPA’s total renewable fuel volume is 19.29 billion gallons, and 4.29 billion gallons of that is advanced biofuel. The 2018 total RFS volume finalized Thursday is a minor 10 million-gallon increase over the 2017 standards, and a modest increase of 50 million gallons over the 2018 volumes originally proposed by EPA in July.