Renewable Fuels Rule Heads to White House

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday set its final 2014 targets for biofuel use in the nation. The final targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), nine months behind schedule, are considered a win for the oil industry.

Under the proposal, the EPA lowered the 18.15 billion gallons of biofuels initially called for under the 2007 law to 15.21 billion gallons. The final proposal is now being reviewed by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is expected to listen to lobbying from both ethanol and biodiesel producers.

Although the OMB often takes months to review such proposals, experts told Reuters that it may only take 30 days to send back the final targets to the EPA.

The oil industry has lobbied for the RFS to be repealed. The American Petroleum Institute specifically urged the Obama Administration to finalize the 2014 rule as soon as possible, stating that delays could "harm consumers" and make it more difficult to "produce the fuels Americans need."

On the contrary, trade groups have claimed that ethanol requirements should not be cut back, as it gives Americans alternative fuels that are locally produced, less expensive and more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum counterparts. Alternative fuels are also deemed necessary by many to achieve corporate average fuel economy standards set forth by the federal government that will allow consumers to achieve better fuel mileage in the future.

In an interview with Reuters, the National Biodiesel Board added that with the law in limbo, biodiesel producers have struggled with low fuel prices and market uncertainty.

"We can begin to reverse that damage with a meaningful increase in the biodiesel volume that is finalized as quickly as possible," said Anne Steckel of the National Biodiesel Board.

Despite a cutback of biodiesel in its proposed 2014 RFS targets, the EPA stressed that it remains committed to biodiesel.

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