The US Environmental Protection Agency Friday said it was extending its compliance deadline for the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard to September 30.
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Refiners and obligated parties originally had until June 30 to demonstrate compliance with the 2013 RFS, which mandated 16.55 billion gallons of biofuels, including 2.75 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, be blended into US transportation fuels.
But the EPA on Friday said that with its lateness in issuing the 2014 standard, it recognized the need to extend the 2013 compliance deadline, so that obligated parties can plan for how many 2013 Renewable Identification Numbers to carry over for 2014 compliance.
The EPA added that it hopes to finalize the 2014 standard "shortly," having previously pledged to finalize them by June 22.
"The EPA received several comments on the proposed rule emphasizing the need for the EPA to promulgate the 2014 RFS standards quickly and the need for obligated parties to know their obligations for the following year when finalizing their 2013 compliance demonstrations," the agency said in a notice that will be published in the Federal Register.
Pushing back the 2013 deadline "will allow the EPA time to complete its work on the 2014 renewable fuel standards rule in a thorough manner, while also providing time between the expected date of finalizing that rule and the new 2013 compliance deadline which will be helpful to obligated parties."
RINs are credits that obligated parties must acquire in order to demonstrate compliance with their RFS blending mandates. The credits are generated for each gallon of biofuel blended, and refiners who are short of their mandate can acquire them on the open market from others who have exceeded their mandate.
Up to 20% of 2013 RINs can be carried forward to be used for compliance with the 2014 mandate.
Under the new deadline, obligated parties would need to demonstrate compliance to the 2013 RFS by June 30 and file attest engagement reports by January 30, 2015.
The EPA has submitted the final 2014 standard to the White House for review but has yet to publicly unveil what the blending mandates would be.
In November, the agency proposed a 2014 blending volume of 15.21 billion gallons of biofuels, including 2.2 billion gallons of advanced biofuels. The proposal represented the first cut the EPA made to the renewable fuels mandate, sparking intense criticism from the biofuels industry, which warned of plant closures.
The EPA said the 2014 RFS rulemaking "has been more time consuming than originally anticipated, involving receipt of over 300,000 comments, concerning numerous specific issues related to the 2014 standards which the EPA needs, and wishes, to thoroughly consider and respond to."