Grassley weighs in on EPA’s expected RFS ‘reset’ rulemaking

By Erin Voegele | November 21, 2018

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has spoken out regarding a Nov. 20 Reuters report indicating the U.S. EPA plans to issue a rulemaking in January to “reset” the Renewable Fuel Standard targets, noting the action could further weaken the RFS. 

The Reuters report cites unnamed sources as stating the January rulemaking is expected to reset statutory targets for the RFS and propose RFS blending obligations for 2020, 2021 and 2022. The same information was also included in a regulatory agenda recently published by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

In mid-October, the Trump Administration released a summary of its Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The agenda included three rules of interest to the U.S. biofuels industry, including the “reset” proposal referenced by the Reuters article. 

Information published by the OMB in the agenda regarding the rulemaking states that “under the statutory provisions of governing the [RFS] program, EPA is required to modify, or reset, the applicable volume targets specified in the statute for future years if waivers of those volumes in past years met certain specified thresholds. Those thresholds have been met or are expected to be met in the near future. As a result, EPA is proposing a rulemaking that will propose modifying the applicable volume targets for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for the years 2020-2022.” The rule is also expected to include proposed diesel RVOs for 2021 and 2022. “Since the timetable for this rulemaking overlaps that for annual standard-setting rulemakings, this rulemaking will also include the applicable percentage standards for 2020,” the OMB said on its website. “Finally, this rulemaking includes several regulatory amendments designed to provide clarity and increase opportunities for renewable fuel production.” The rule is scheduled to be proposed in January and finalized by December 2019.

In his response to the Reuters article, Grassley connected reports of the “reset” rule with the EPA’s actions regarding small refinery hardship waivers. “Under former Administrator Scott Pruitt, EPA broke the spirit of the law by issuing so-called ‘hardship’ waivers to multibillion dollar oil companies exempting them from their legal obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Grassley said. “EPA systematically undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard, and if the reports are accurate, may now use its weakened state to justify gutting the biofuels program further. Today Acting Administrator Wheeler is in a position to avoid the missteps and abuses of power of his predecessor at the agency.”