An RFS Update

By Erin Voegele | March 15, 2013

Earlier this week I received a press release from the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, thanking the U.S. EPA for its prompt action rescinding the 2012 cellulosic volume obligation under the renewable fuels standard (RFS). Although I am familiar with the court’s decision on the matter, which was handed down in late January, I was surprised find that the EPA had not issued any officially documentation of the action to the public.

After searching the original court case filings, under Case No. 12-1139 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, I found documentation noting that the volume requirement was actually vacated weeks ago, in late February.

According to court documents, the American Petroleum Institute filed a motion Feb. 13 asking the court officially waive the cellulosic volume requirement. On Jan. 25, the date the court issued its decision regarding the volume requirement, however wasn’t set to be finalized until after the Feb. 28 RFS compliance deadline passed. Since there were no objections issued by the EPA or any organizations with intervenor status, the court approved the petition on Feb. 22. In effect, the EPA and obligated parties were not put in a position where those required to buy cellulosic waiver credits would have to purchase them to meet the compliance deadline, and then seek a refund from the EPA once the court decision was finalized.

While the court’s decision wasn’t exactly ideal from the perspective of the cellulosic biofuels industry, the good news is that the decision to vacate covered only 2012 volume requirements. With several second-generation plants scheduled to come online over the next several months, 2012 was hopefully the last year that obligated parties will be faced with the possibility of having to purchase waiver credits.

The proposed fuel for the 2013 RFS volume requirements is currently pending. The deadline to submit comments is March 25, which is less than two weeks from today. Make sure your voice is heard. Information on how to submit comments can be found on the Federal Register website.