Regulatory freeze expires on 2017 RFS biofuel volumes, spurs implementation of 2017 RVO as planned

By Christie Moffat & Leela Landress, ICIS

The US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel volume mandate for 2017 took effect on Tuesday, after a regulatory freeze introduced by the Trump administration expired, industry players confirmed.

The Trump administration introduced a 60-day delay on regulations that had been published in the Federal Register between 28 October 2016 and 17 January 2017.

According to the White House, the purpose of the regulatory freeze was to review "questions of fact, law, and policy" that any previously approved regulations might raise.

This included the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule for renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the RFS, which were finalised in November last year.

The RFS requires refiners and fuel importers to blend increasing volumes of biofuels each year for the US market. That includes cellulosic ethanol, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel.

The EPA mandated that 15.0bn gal of total volumes in 2017 be for conventional biofuel, which is primarily ethanol derived from corn feedstock.

The agency also released its final rule on RVOs for biomass-based diesel, setting the amount at 2.0bn gal in 2017, and 2.1bn gal in 2018.

As of Tuesday, no further delays to the RFS rule had been posted.