Automobile manufacturers on Tuesday praised the federal government’s approach to expanding the nation’s biofuel mandates to allow for electric vehicles.

EPA’s proposed Renewable Volume Obligations rolled out in December create a path for electricity generated from methane digesters at livestock facilities and landfills to generate compliance credits under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. The credits — dubbed “eRINs” for the Renewable Identification Numbers already familiar to the program’s biofuel industry stakeholders — would be offered to vehicle manufacturers, but the agency is seeking other options during the public comment period.  

Evan Belser, who testified on behalf of Ford Motor Co. at an EPA hearing, said the EV proposal was the best approach.

“The proposal's so-called ‘top-down approach’ exemplifies smart and effective regulatory design, which will help secure the climate benefits of this program, reduce implementation burdens and prevent errors and cheating,” he said. “When finalized, this will lead to greater beneficial use of landfills and digesters as a source of renewable energy for transportation and it will catalyze the automotive industries electrification revolution.”

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But Grant Zimmerman, CEO of renewable natural gas proponent AMP Americas, said offering that level of support to vehicle manufacturers would be “anti-competitive” and “disadvantage RNG fuel producers counter to the RFS programs intended to support growth and renewable fuels.” Zimmerman further stated that EPA’s proposal “provides no evidence” to support the agency’s claim that manufacturers would share eRIN value with RNG producers “sufficient to incentivize growing production.”

Groups representing conventional ethanol producers welcomed EPA’s proposal to grow the volumes throughout the three-year compliance period. Representatives of Clean Fuels Alliance America called for EPA to leave more room for the production of biomass-based diesel.

EPA is required by a consent decree with Growth Energy to finalize the volumes in June.

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