As the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to issue three years’ worth of proposed Renewable Fuel Standard volume levels, both sides of the debate are lobbying the Obama administration on what those proposals should look like. Biofuels groups called for an aggressive standard while oil and refining groups sought a reprieve from the current RFS blending trajectory.
In recent days, the industries have sent correspondence to the White House and EPA seeking to influence the volume requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016, set to be proposed on June 1.
An industry group representing advanced and cellulosic fuel producers on Wednesday officially shifted its position on the Renewable Fuel Standard, calling for legislative reform to the program that mandates the blending of biofuels in transportation fuels.
The Advanced Biofuels Association's call for action won approval from opponents of the current RFS, who see it as giving a big boost to reform efforts. But supporters of the law said the proposals would only add more uncertainty to the biofuels industry.
The decision last week by the Obama administration to delay a final biofuels rule for 2014 is leading to conflict within the industry over the future of the program.
Mike McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, on Tuesday renewed his call for Congress to write new legislation to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard, a stance that put him at odds with other biofuels groups.
He argued that the approach adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep biofuels at about 10 percent of the motor vehicle fuel market, based on the predominant blend of ethanol into gasoline sold to consumers, threatens to kill investment into ethanol made from non-corn cellulosic feedstocks.
"It's time for Congress to step in and do something," McAdams said in an interview.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it will not finalize its 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard proposal this year and will set final targets next year, potentially with 2015 requirements.
The agency is more than a year late in finalizing the annual mandate for biofuels use in transportation fuels. Late last year it proposed to cut required use compared to 2013, which prompted intense lobbying from the biofuels industry in an effort to raise the totals in a final rule.
"Due to this delay, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, EPA is not in a position to finalize the 2014 RFS standards rule before the end of the year," the agency said in a Federal Register notice.
Sources tell Platts that the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014 biodiesel production will range from 1.28 billion to 1.5 billion gallons, far lower than industry capacity that reached 1.8 billion gallons last year.
As industry and politicians await this year's final ethanol mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency, the oil industry hopes to get a lower total out of the Obama administration with a long shot pitch that consumers want gasoline free from biofuels.
The American Petroleum Institute has asked EPA to consider an apparent increase in sales of unleaded gasoline with no ethanol. It has said those sales of so-called E0 should prompt a lower Renewable Fuel Standard requirement, below the 13.1 billion gallons of conventional ethanol it proposed last fall.
But the argument is running up against lobbying by the ethanol industry, which wants the totals raised, and EPA itself, and its success would be a surprise.
The Obama administration on Friday awarded $210 million to three companies to build refineries that will be able to make more than 100 million gallons a year of biofuels to power Navy ships and jets.
The awards come some three years into President Barack Obama's initiative to develop a domestic military-grade biofuels sector. It follows the testing of biofuels by the Navy in a live exercise in 2012.
Navigant Research said in a report that marine and aviation industries have been expanding their use of biofuels in recent years and projected that biofuels will make up 6.1 percent of the aviation fuel market by 2024, FuelFix reports.
A watchdog group's analysis shows that, out of the nearly 900 resolutions shareholders have brought to companies' annual meetings this year, nearly half are concerned with environmental and social issues, and 40 percent of those relate to climate change, energy and sustainability, E&E reports.
The Hill quotes a top lobbyist from America’s Natural Gas Alliance as saying that imposing a new tax on the natural gas industry, as proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf, D-Pa., would threaten the state's energy boom and “doesn’t make any sense.”
Oil prices dropped as the dollar continued to gain on currency markets Wednesday. U.S. benchmark crude fell 52 cents to settle at $57.51 a barrel on the Nymex, while in London, Brent slid 2.6 percent, or $1.66, to $62.06, The Wall Street Journal reports.
A new building unveiled at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Tuesday, which is named after former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, is housing research into sunlight, including a quest for artificial photosynthesis, KGO reports.
Officials are investigating the cause of the discharge of oily water into the Piscataqua River from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Ferdinand R. Hassler, which didn’t appear to have harmed wildlife or causeed any pollution onshore, the Bangor Daily News reports.
The Environmental Protection Agency does have the authority to reject a state’s air pollution plan, according to an appeals court ruling in a case brought by Kansas challenging authorities under the Cross-State Air Pollution rule, The Hill reports.