Washington — The American Petroleum Institute urged the Trump administration Thursday to abandon plans to expand the US biofuel mandate just weeks before final 2020-21 volumes are due, arguing the policy changes are rushed, arbitrary, and causing volatility in the renewable credit market.
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The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it would boost volumes under next year's biofuel mandate, account for future small refinery hardship waivers, and make other changes around E15 and RINs trading. It said the changes would ensure that at least 15 billion gallons of ethanol is blended into the nation's fuel supply.
EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said Thursday that the agency still planned to release the proposal this week.
The proposal was sent Monday to the White House for review, according to Office of Management and Budget records.
EPA has until November 30 to release final volumes for 2020 ethanol and advanced biofuel blending and 2021 biodiesel blending.
Frank Macchiarola, API's vice president of downstream and industry operations, said the group would likely challenge the proposal in court. He urged the administration to return to regular order with an annual rulemaking process.
"We don't want a 'deal,' we want effective solutions that protect consumers and provide consistent regulatory certainty," he said during a press call Thursday.
Macchiarola said EPA was "deciding by fiat" that at least 15 billion gallons would get blended, arguing "there's no statutory basis for that."
On EPA's promise to evaluate options for Renewable Identification Number market transparency and reform, Macchiarola said the agency's own announcements were the biggest factor behind the volatility.
"They continue to make unclear, arbitrary announcements that cut against the statute, and they wonder why RINs prices become volatile," he said.
S&P Global Platts Wednesday assessed D6 ethanol RINs for 2019 compliance at 17.5 cents/RIN and 2018 credits at 7.5 cents/RIN, both down 6.5 cents/RIN from before EPA's announcement Friday.
RINs are tradable credits EPA issues to track production and use of alternative transportation fuels. For corn-based ethanol, one gallon of ethanol yields one RIN.
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