In action taken January 28, the Environmental Protection Agency extended the Renewable Fuel Standard program compliance deadline for the 2019 compliance year for small refineries only, as well as extending the compliance deadline for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 compliance year for all obligated parties. The action was criticized by ethanol industry groups who say it goes against Congressional intent of the RFS.
The 2019 RVO compliance deadline for small refineries was originally set for November 30, 2021, and the 2020 RVO compliance deadline for all obligated parties was previously set for January 31, 2022. With the latest action, EPA is finalizing rolling compliance deadlines based on publication of the final RVOs for 2020-2022.
In mid-November, EPA announced a proposal to extend the RVO compliance deadlines for 2019, 2020, 2021 and for 2022. In December 2021, Growth Energy Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley testified before EPA on its proposed RFS compliance date extension proposal.
“The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply. Period,” Bliley said at the time. “It is not meant to reward oil companies for suing to prevent higher blends and then demand that the agency further delay compliance.”
EPA laid out the new compliance deadlines. The 2020 compliance deadline will be the next quarterly reporting deadline after the 2019 compliance deadline for small refineries. The 2021 compliance deadline will be the next quarterly reporting deadline after the 2020 compliance deadline. The 2022 compliance deadline will be the next quarterly reporting deadline after either the effective date of the 2023 RFS standards or the 2021 compliance deadline, whichever is later.
Third, for 2019–2022, EPA is extending the associated attest engagement reporting deadlines to the next June 1 annual attest engagement reporting deadline after the applicable 2019–2022 compliance deadline.
Finally, EPA is changing the way in which future (2023+) RFS compliance and attest engagement reporting deadlines are determined.
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says the action by EPA is very disappointing. “We are especially concerned by the new approach the agency is taking to future RFS compliance deadlines. With this final rule, EPA just gave itself the power to perpetually delay implementation of yearly RFS blending requirements and continually kick the can down the road on compliance deadlines,” Cooper says. “This is not what Congress intended, and this approach could exacerbate the uncertainty and instability around RFS implementation that was created by the past administration.”
Cooper continues, “Ethanol producers, farmers, fuel retailers, and refiners need and deserve certainty and predictability when it comes to RFS implementation timelines. That’s why Congress put certain annual deadlines into the law for RFS implementation.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “Delaying compliance deadlines is completely contradictory to efforts to lower rising gas prices and increase the use of cleaner, lower-carbon fuels. By continuing to delay compliance deadlines, EPA is creating uncertainty in the marketplace and stunting the blending of biofuel needed to decarbonize transportation as the Renewable Fuel Standard intended.
Skor adds, “Moving ahead, it is vital for EPA to get the RFS back on track. EPA can start by making needed changes to its proposed cuts to the 2020 RVOs and low volumes for 2021. Importantly, EPA needs to swiftly finalize the proposed volumes for 2022.”
Skor says EPA Administrator Michael Regan has emphasized time and time again the need for transparency and certainty when it comes to the RFS. “Ensuring timely compliance and finalizing strong biofuel blends can help Administrator Regan follow through on these promises and provide much needed certainty for biofuel producers,” she says.
Scott Lauermann, manager of media relations at the American Petroleum Industry says, "We are pleased that EPA made the right decision in proceeding with this extension which will enable obligated parties to effectively manage their compliance obligations."