EPA on Wednesday announced Renewable Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2023-2025, bumping the overall blending in 2023 but trimming the mandates for 2024 and 2025 from what the agency proposed in December.

The 2023 total blending was increased 120 million gallons to 20.94 billion, with the increase coming from growth in the advanced biofuel pool. The 2023 mandate also includes a 250 million-gallon supplemental standard to respond to a 2016 court ruling requiring past unallocated blending to be added into a future target.

The 2024 total blending is set at 21.54 billion gallons, down 330 million gallons from the proposed volumes, and the 2025 target takes a slightly bigger, 350-million-gallon cut to 22.33 billion gallons.

While the final figures represent cuts from what was first proposed, EPA Administrator Michael Regan defended the volumes and the overall growth they would represent for the industry.

“Today’s final rule reflects our efforts to ensure stability of the program for years to come, protect consumers from high fuel costs, strengthen the rural economy, support domestic production of cleaner fuels, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Regan said in a statement.

The biofuels industry was frustrated by the news, with Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor saying the final rule leaves the RFS’s potential as a climate solution “untapped.”

“While the final rule offers a modest improvement in advanced volumes, EPA inexplicably failed to extend that recognition to conventional biofuels,” Skor said. “The bioethanol industry has more than adequate supply to meet the higher volumes that were originally proposed in December 2022. Choosing not to put that supply to good use in decarbonizing the transportation sector runs counter to this administration's previously-stated commitments and undermines the goal of reaching net-zero by 2050.”

Growth Energy had sued EPA over the timeline of the rollout, resulting in a consent decree that mandated a June 14 finalization of the volumes. Both parties agreed to a one-week extension of that time frame last week.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper saying the rule “flatlines conventional renewable fuels at 15 billion gallons and misses a valuable opportunity to accelerate the energy sector’s transition to low- and zero-carbon fuels.

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“By removing half a billion gallons of lower-carbon, lower-cost fuel, today’s rule needlessly forfeits an opportunity to further enhance U.S. energy security and provide more affordable options at the pump for American drivers,” he added.

The rule did account for growth in the biomass based diesel space in the 2024 and 2025 RVOs, adding 150 million gallons in 2024 and 400 million gallons in 2025. That industry had argued EPA’s December proposal failed to account for expansion and construction plans that would boost the sector’s production capacity, but said Wednesday the increases still fall short.

“EPA is undercutting the certainty that our industry hoped for from a three-year RFS rule,” Kurt Kovarik, head lobbyist for Clean Fuels Alliance America, said in a statement.

“The industry responded to signals from the Biden administration and Congress aiming to rapidly decarbonize U.S. fuel markets, particularly aviation, marine, and heavy-duty transport, and make clean fuels available to more consumers. The volumes EPA finalized today are not high enough to support those goals.”

The rule represented the EPA’s first attempt to set blending targets after the volumetric guidelines in the 2007 energy law ended in 2022.

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