EPA Settles With API, AFPM Over RFS

Agency agrees to November 30 deadline for setting Renewable Fuel Standard requirements

Environmental Protection Agency EPA American Petroleum Institute API and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers AFPM Renewable Fuel Standard RFS (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accepted a settlement with the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) by agreeing to a Nov. 30, 2015, deadline for setting requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The tentative consent decree comes after API and AFPM filed a lawsuit in March over the EPA’s failure to meet congressionally mandated RFS deadlines.

“EPA has failed year after year to implement the RFS effectively,” said API general counsel Stacy Linden. “The agency still hasn’t finalized the RFS requirements for this year or even last year, leaving companies to guess how much ethanol they were mandated to blend into gasoline.”

“While we are pleased that we were able to negotiate a deadline that requires EPA to issue the overdue RFS rules, we remain concerned with the government’s implementation of this broken program,” AFPM general counsel Rich Moskowitz said. “EPA’s failure to comply with the statutory deadlines injures refiners and exacerbates the problems associated with this unreasonable government mandate.”

“We hope that this outcome will enable EPA to issue future RFS implementation rules in accordance with the congressionally mandated deadlines that were designed to provide refiners with some regulatory certainty and the ability to adjust their compliance strategies throughout the compliance period,” Moskowitz added.

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set the annual RFS ethanol mandates by November 30 of the preceding year, but the EPA issued the 2013 requirements eight months late and has yet to issue the 2014 or 2015 requirements. Under the agreement, the EPA pledges to propose the 2015 RFS mandate by June 1, 2015, and to finalize the 2014 and 2015 RFS mandates by Nov. 30, 2015.

“We hope this agreement helps get the RFS back on track, but the only long-term solution is for Congress to repeal the program and let consumers, not the federal government, choose the best fuel to put in their vehicles,” Linden said. “Failure to repeal the unworkable law could put millions of motorists at risk of higher fuel costs, damaged engines, and costly repairs.”

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report predicts higher gasoline and diesel costs under current ethanol mandates. E15--a gasoline blend with 15% ethanol--can damage engines and cause vehicles that use it to break down, according to Coordinating Research Council’s (CRC) testing. Auto manufacturers have said that using E15 could void car warranties.

Click here for the EPA RFS timeline.

“This schedule is consistent with EPA’s commitment to get the RFS program back on track, while providing certainty to renewable fuels markets and promoting the long-term growth of renewable fuels,” the EPA said in a statement.

On a call with reporters, Chris Grundler, director of the EPA's Office of Transportation & Air Quality, said the agency has learned from the problems that caused previous delays and now knows that “missing a deadline is not an option.” He said EPA is working to get the RFS back to its statutory schedule, and the timeline in the consent decree was something very similar to what the EPA was already working toward. “Our plan and our schedule was very similar to this,” Grundler said, according to an Agri-Pulse report. “This is very close to what we had already been working against and now we're just in a position to announce it.”

API is a national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline and marine businesses and service and supply firms.

AFPM, formerly the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), is a trade association representing high-tech American manufacturers of the entire U.S. supply of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, other fuels and home heating oil, as well as petrochemicals.