On Nov. 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Final Rule setting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume requirements, including the volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. The Final Rule sets the biomass-based diesel volumes at the following levels:
• 2014 – 1.63 billion gallons
• 2015 – 1.73 billion gallons
• 2016 – 1.9 billion gallons
• 2017 – 2.0 billion gallons
These volume levels represent a modest improvement over the Proposed Rule, which called for 1.63 billion gallons in 2014, 1.7 in 2015, 1.8 in 2016 and 1.9 in 2017. In comments submitted in July, the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) advocated that the EPA, “support biomass-based diesel volumes of at least 2 billion gallons for 2016 and 2.3 billion gallons for 2017.”
By setting volume requirements through 2017, this Final Rule provides some certainty to the biodiesel and canola markets and hopefully enables the EPA in future years to return to the schedule required under the law. By law, the EPA is supposed to finalize biomass-based diesel volumes 14 months in advance of the applicable year, making the agency significantly overdue in setting the volumes for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Under the statute, the volume requirements for biomass-based diesel are only set at a minimum of 1 billion gallons and the EPA has discretion to establish specific levels above 1 billion gallons. The USCA will continue to monitor impacts of this Final Rule and overall RFS implementation and is also actively engaged in efforts to restore the biodiesel tax credit before Congress adjourns for the year.
Tom Hance is a policy expert at Gordley Associates in Washington, D.C.