API, NPRA ask EPA to consider delaying RFS-2 implementation for one year

Two leading US oil industry trade associations asked the US Environmental Protection Agency on June 9 to consider delaying implementation of new renewable fuel standards for a year.

Two leading US oil industry trade associations asked the US Environmental Protection Agency on June 9 to consider delaying implementation of new renewable fuel standards for a year.

“Given the extremely complex and first of a kind nature associated with this rulemaking, it seems that promulgation of final rules by EPA and necessary preparations by impacted industries will not be able to meet a Jan. 1, 2010 implementation date,” Al Mannato, fuels manager for the American Petroleum Institute, testified at an EPA hearing on the proposed regulation.

“This rulemaking should not be rushed,” added Greg Scott, executive vice president and general counsel at the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. “As noted, [EPA] took considerable care in drafting the proposal. Stakeholders such as NPRA need to take similar care in examining the proposal; analyzing its potential impacts on our industry, consumers, and the economy as a whole; and then drafting meaningful, informed and responsive comments to the agency.”

The current US renewable fuel standard (RFS) was established under the 2005 Energy Security Act. Congress made several important revisions to it when it passed the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, including expanding coverage to diesel and off-highway fuels, establishing greenhouse gas reduction thresholds, and increasing renewable volume standards, according to EPA.

Scott said that NPRA does not believe it can properly review the proposals under the proposed second RFS during the existing comment period, and has joined API in formally asking EPA for at least 60 additional days. Even if the federal regulator grants the request, NPRA also thinks EPA won’t be able to adequately meet a Jan. 1, 2010 deadline, he continued.

“It took the agency almost 18 months to develop this proposal, and there are sure to be thousands, if not tens of thousands, of public comments on the proposal. It is hard to believe that the agency can give adequate and fair consideration to these public comments and meet this ambitious schedule,” Scott said.

Stakeholders also will need sufficient time to digest the final new rule and plan for compliance, he added. The first RFS was informally released in mid-April 2007 and became effective four and a half months later on Sept. 1, he said. “Clearly, the RFS-2 regulations, when finalized, will be far more complex than the RFS-1 rule and will require more lead time for compliance,” he suggested.

Mannato said that it is critically important that obligated parties and all others involved in the RFS, such as biofuel producers and distributors, also have time to prepare for implementation of the proposed standard’s complex four-tier mandate. “Also, the compliance issues associated with a partial year program should rule out that possibility. Therefore, it appears that the only option that is feasible is a Jan. 1, 2011 start date,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow atnicks@pennwell.com>

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