Workers prepare the gas pumps for the grand opening at Wally’s in Fenton, Mo., on March 10. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
The Biden Administration has boosted biofuel blending requirements to the largest amount on record to support the renewable fuel alternative to oil amid skyrocketing gas prices.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced the new requirements on Friday for how much biofuel, such as corn-based ethanol, the oil industry must blend into the fuel supply.
Oil refiners must mix 20.63 billion gallons of renewable fuels into gasoline and diesel this year, under the new requirements, slightly lower than the 20.77 billion gallons the EPA proposed in December, but the largest amount since the Renewable Fuel Standard was created in 2005.
“At EPA, we are laser-focused on providing more options for consumers at the pump, and today we are taking steps to increase the availability of homegrown biofuels,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.
“Today’s actions will help to reduce our reliance on oil and put the RFS program back on track after years of challenges and mismanagement. We remain committed to working with all RFS stakeholders to build on today’s actions and deliver certainty and stability in the RFS program.”
Chet Thompson, CEO of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, told the Des Moines Register the blending requirement for this year was “contrary to the administration’s claims to be doing everything in their power to provide relief to consumers.”
“Unachievable mandates will needlessly raise fuel production costs and further threaten the viability of U.S. small refineries, both at the expense of consumers,” Thompson added.
The EPA also announced on Friday that it denied roughly 70 exemptions for small refineries, including several exemptions that the Trump administration granted, according to the Register.
“The Biden EPA is to be commended for restoring sanity to the refinery exemption program,” Monte Shaw, the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association’s executive director, told the Register, which noted Iowa as the nation’s largest ethanol producer and corn grower. “These exemptions have never been justified and were simply being used to illegally undermine the RFS. We are grateful this long nightmare is over.”
Still, Shaw voiced concern about a final rule the agency posted online Friday, which said it was retroactively scaling back the blending requirements for 2020 and 2021.
The EPA blamed the retroactive reduction on widespread travel shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic which decreased fuel demand.
“We cannot ignore that today’s final rule creates uncertainty,” Shaw added. “Any of these numbers that look good today could be revised downward in the future.”