Refiners petition EPA to waive cellulosic biofuel mandate

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive the 2012 cellulosic biofuel mandate, citing a lack of domestic supply for commercial use. The action marks the second year in a row that it was forced to file a waiver petition for ‘a non-existent biofuel” that EPA has mandated under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the group, which represents refiners, said.

(While the Clean Air Act requires EPA to act on the petition for waiver within 90 days, AFPM says it requested that the agency move expeditiously because the compliance period for refiners ends on February 28, 2013, and cellulosic biofuel waiver credits for 2012 must be purchased on or before that date.)

The refiners group says that the EPA Moderated Transaction System (EMTS) demonstrates that there has been, and continues to be, an inadequate domestic supply of cellulosic biofuel. In 2011, it says, U.S. refiners were required to use 6 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel to meet the EPA-established mandate, yet according to EMTS, zero cellulosic biofuel was actually produced. To date in 2012, just 20,069 gallons of cellulosic biofuel has been produced, all of which was exported, the group says. This amount falls far short of the EPA-mandated 10.45 million ethanol-equivalent gallons of cellulosic biofuel. In addition, since the cellulosic that actually was produced was exported, refiners cannot use credits generated from these biofuels for complying with the federal mandate.

Here is more from the group’s statement, dated Dec. 31, 2012, and posted on its website:

If EPA fails to grant the waiver, refiners will be forced to pay several million dollars for a product that does not exist. This hidden tax on the refining industry disadvantages fuel consumers and is not what Congress intended when it incorporated the waiver provisions into the RFS.

‘EPA’s ambitious timeline for introducing cellulosic biofuel into the fuel supply market continues to be unrealistic despite billions in incentives to renewable fuel producers,” said AFPM President Charles T. Drevna. ‘Congress foresaw that the aggressive renewable fuel standards might be unattainable and established several waiver provisions in the Clean Air Act including for inadequate domestic supply. If zero production doesn’t meet the definition of inadequate, then it is time for Congress to reexamine the entire RFS and its failure to produce their desired results.”

AFPM, (formerly known as NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association) is a trade association representing manufacturers of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, other fuels and home heating oil, as well as petrochemicals.

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