By Ella Nilsen, CNN
The Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed changes to its biofuels program Tuesday to spur more biofuel use and crack down on waivers issued to refineries by the Trump administration, notching a win for the biofuels industry and farmers and a blow to oil refineries.
EPA is proposing to deny petitions that would exempt small refineries from blending biofuels into their fuel mixes, as obligated by the US Renewable Fuel Standard. Tuesday’s announcement comes after a 2020 ruling by the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which tightened restrictions on when EPA could issue biofuel waivers and exemptions. The proposal still must go through a public comment process.
It’s a notable change from the Trump administration, which increased the number of waivers issued to refineries — prompting protests from farmers and biofuel producers.
“Despite multiple challenging dynamics affecting the RFS program in recent years, EPA remains committed to the growth of biofuels in America as a critical strategy to secure a clean, zero-carbon energy future,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. “This package of actions will enable us to get the RFS program back in growth mode by setting ambitious levels for 2022, and by reinforcing the foundation of the program so that it’s rooted in science and the law.”
EPA is proposing raising biofuel volumes in 2022, increasing the volume by 3.5 billion gallons more than that used in 2020. EPA said its newly proposed volume of advanced biofuel for the new year is “over 1 billion gallons greater than the volume used in 2020.”
The agency said it plans to add another 250 million gallons in 2023.
Also, the US Department of Agriculture is announcing it’s releasing $800 million to support biofuel producers and infrastructure. Up to $700 million will provide economic relief to biofuel producers that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and $100 million will go toward biofuel products that come from US agricultural products.
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