The Environmental Protection Agency will require refiners to increase their usage of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels in 2019 under a final rule set for release on Friday, sources tell Agri-Pulse

The Renewable Volume Obligations for 2019 will call for about 4.92 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, including 418 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, a slight increase of over levels proposed in June of 381 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels and 4.88 billion gallons of advanced biofuels. The final levels are 15 percent above the 2018 requirements.

The final rule will maintain the 15-billion gallon conventional RVO – typically viewed as corn ethanol – and 2.43 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel for 2020.

All told, the EPA will call for blending of 19.92 billion gallons of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline supply.

The rule won't include language to reallocate gallons waived through small refinery exemptions (SREs), the controversial waivers that took on a new life during the tenure of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Andrew Wheeler, who took over as acting administrator following Pruitt’s departure in July, has publicly stated a goal to increase the transparency around the SREs, but the kind of transparency sought by the biofuel sector would be hampered by agency action to protect confidential business information.

By law, EPA must set the annual biofuel blending mandates by Nov. 30 of the preceding year. After several years of delays during the Obama administration – including one rollout featuring three year’s worth of RVOs – Friday’s release will represent the fourth consecutive year of on-schedule announcements.

Sara Wyant contributed to this story.

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