By Jennifer A. Dlouhy
The Environmental Protection Agency has drafted a plan to slightly lift biofuel-blending targets next year, while so far skirting potentially controversial decisions about exempting refineries from U.S. mandates to use plant-based fuels, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Under a proposed rule now undergoing White House review, the EPA would require refiners to use 5.17 billion gallons of advanced biofuels in 2021, up from 5.09 billion gallons this year, according to two of the people. That would include 670 million gallons of cellulosic renewable fuels, such as those made from crop residue, switchgrass and biogas harvested at landfills, up from 590 million gallons required this year.
The draft plan was described by people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named before a public announcement.
The EPA is expected to propose the quotas in coming months, and under federal law faces a Nov. 30 deadline to finalize the targets. Representatives of the EPA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Refiners would be able to use as much as 15 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuels, including corn-based ethanol, to satisfy the mandate in 2020. And under the EPA’s draft plan, in 2022, the government would require refiners to use 2.76 billion gallons of biodiesel, typically made from soybeans and waste cooking oil, up from 2.43 billion gallons in 2021, according to two of the people.
The battle over biofuel blending has set two factions of President Donald Trump’s political base -- farmers and oil companies -- against each other as the 2020 election approaches.