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EPA May Increase Biofuel Use Requirement by 3 Percent
USAgNet - 06/25/2018

Oil industry opposition prompted Trump administration officials to at least temporarily abandon a proposal that would force larger refineries to use more biofuel to make up for exemptions granted to smaller facilities, according to two people familiar with the plans. Bloomberg reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is on track to issue a slate of biofuel quotas without the contentious proposal. But as of Friday afternoon, EPA had not officially released the 2019 volume requirements.

The move follows intense deliberation over the biofuel quota redistribution plan as two key Trump constituencies -- the oil industry and agricultural interests -- clash over the U.S. renewable fuel mandate.

The agency is set to propose requiring 19.88 billion gallons of biofuels to be used in 2019, a 3.1 percent increase over 2018 requirements. With a quota for 4.88 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, that would mean the EPA is proposing to require 15 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuels, including corn-based ethanol -- the same as required in 2018 and the maximum that can be compelled under federal law.

Targets for cellulosic renewable fuel -- such as ethanol made from switchgrass -- would be 381 million gallons, up from 288 million gallons in 2018. And refiners would face a 2.43 billion gallon target for biomass-based diesel in 2020, up from 2.1 billion gallons in 2019, reports Bloomberg.

The proposal was briefly held up by deliberations over an EPA-drafted plan to incorporate some 1.5 billion gallons (5.7 billion liters) of additional biofuel requirements into proposed quotas for next year, with the aim of making up for potential exemptions granted to small refineries. Ethanol producers and farm-state lawmakers have criticized those waivers, saying they undercut a 13-year-old federal law compelling refiners to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel.

But the administration's plan for making up for those forgiven biofuel quotas effectively would have meant redistributing the burden to non-exempted refineries, prompting an outcry from the top two oil industry trade groups.

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