The Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Volume Obligation proposal, released Tuesday, includes a 2019 target for advanced biofuels that is nearly 600 million gallons higher than 2018, but does not attempt to reallocate gallons left unblended because of waivers given to refiners.

The proposal, which has not been published in the Federal Register, would maintain the target for conventional biofuel (mainly corn ethanol) at 15 billion gallons, raise the target for advanced biofuel from 4.29 billion gallons in 2018 to 4.88 billion gallons in 2019, which includes an increase in the target for cellulosic biofuel from 288 million gallons to 381 million gallons.

The target for biomass-based diesel, or biodiesel, would remain at 2.1 billion gallons for 2019, but EPA proposed the 2020 target at 2.43 billion gallons. 

Initial reaction was mixed. The Renewable Fuels Association harshly criticized EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, with RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen saying, “While we acknowledge that the implied 15-billion-gallon requirement for conventional biofuels like corn ethanol should, in theory, send a positive signal to the market, it comes with the backdrop of 1.6 billion gallons of demand (destroyed) by illegal waivers to small refineries and no commitment that EPA is changing its approach to granting these exemptions.”

Dinneen said the proposal “means nothing until EPA reallocates those lost gallons and sets forth a more transparent and rational process that assures small refinery waivers are not abused or granted unnecessarily.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor also took a shot at the proposal, saying that the 15-billion-gallon target for conventional biofuel “isn’t a real number we can count on” because EPA’s plan “fails to  ensure those gallons will, in fact, be blended. By neglecting to reallocate gallons lost to waivers, the EPA is doubling down on another year of an estimated 1.5 billion gallons in demand destruction.”

The National Biodiesel Board’s Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs, said NBB appreciated the proposed boost for 2020 “following two flatlined years,” calling it “a positive signal for our industry.” But he added that “instability in the RFS program caused by the EPA has done significant damage that can only be rectified for biodiesel through consistent and predictable growth in volumes.”

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