EPA approves lower ethanol increase in U.S. fuel supply than 2007 law

December 1, 2015

USAToday.com

The Obama administration is requiring more ethanol be blended into the country’s gasoline compared to an earlier proposal, but the increase was widely criticized by renewable fuel and corn producers that have pushed hard for the White House to adhere to much more aggressive targets set by Congress nearly a decade ago.

The Environmental Protection Agency Monday defended its rule as a way to foster expanded use for renewable fuels that it viewed as realistic, and said it would put the industry on “stable ground” to support further investment and innovation.

Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said in an interview the ethanol quotas follow Congress’ intent to promote increased use of renewable fuels. But she said slower-than-expected growth in the nascent cellulosic ethanol industry meant that the mandate would not be able to meet the levels Congress predicted in 2007.

These numbers will “really drive the volumes significantly beyond where they have been in the last couple of years, which is what Congress intended, and that’s substantial growth, achievable growth,” McCabe said. "The industry is going to really have to push to achieve these but it provides the signal they’ve been asking for. I think when people look at the numbers they will see that this really is very good for the industry.”

The EPA said refiners will be required to blend 18.11 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2016, an increase from the agency’s 17.4 billion gallons proposed in May, but well below the 22.25 billion target set by Congress. The increase is largely reflective of rising gasoline consumption tied to low pump prices.

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