AFPM petitions EPA to waive 2012 cellulosic mandate

By Susanne Retka Schill | January 02, 2013

Not even a month after a U.S. District Court dismissed its lawsuit on the 2011 cellulosic biofuel mandate, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers started over, petitioning the U.S. EPA to waive the 2012 cellulosic biofuel mandate provided in the renewable fuel standard (RFS), citing a lack of domestic supply available for domestic use.

The organization argues that the EPA Moderated Transaction System demonstrates that there is insufficient cellulosic biofuel production to even come close to meeting the required volumes. “In 2011, American 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,” the AFPM said in a statement. “To date in 2012, just 20,069 gallons of cellulosic biofuel has been produced, all of which was exported. This amount falls far short of the EPA-mandated 10.45 million ethanol-equivalent gallons of cellulosic biofuel.”

"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 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."

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

The EPA denied a similar petition in May that was filed by the AFPM regarding last year’s mandated volumes. The petition asked EPA to retroactively waive the 2011 cellulosic biofuel volume requirements.  Following the petition denial, the AFPM, joined by the Western States Petroleum Association, filed a lawsuit against the EPA in District of Columbia Circuit Court.  On Dec. 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the lawsuit, saying it was filed July 24, beyond the 60-day period provided by regulation.