As the election season winds down, we expect the Obama administration to release the long awaited volumes of renewable fuel that should be blended for 2014 (which the RFS law specifies EPA should have released November 2013). A recent article linked below hints at what changes might exist in soon to be released mandates – and it is probably not good news for bioenergy. But in reality, since it is so delayed, it would be hard to hold anyone to mandates on what they “should have done” over the past year..
As you may know, we keep track of what has been happening with these volumes over the years. What is important to recognize in those charts the difference between the original and revised RFS targets (the blue lines). The question is, what will EPA propose for 2014?
Most would expect that due to various factors, they would propose a slight increase to 2013 volumes, but in the article linked above, they hint that the EPA might allow waivers that include:
“the full range of constraints that could result in an inadequate supply of renewable fuel to the ultimate consumers, including fuel infrastructure and other constraints.”
and what does this mean?
Well, it sounds like allowing waivers based on distribution capacity would give oil companies (that blend and distribute gasoline) the power to say that they are unable to blend more biofuel, thus crippling the market and basically the entire RFS. Are they able to blend more? I think that is the what the RFS is meant to do – provide incentives to figure out how to blend more (innovation!) instead of doing the same things we’ve done for decades.
Much more detail on questions regarding whether EPA has the authority to do something like this can be found in this post by Jonathan Coppess at Farmdocdaily.