On April 10, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia a proposed consent decree to resolve litigation challenging the delay in issuing Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) for 2014 and 2015 brought by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) against EPA. The consent decree would establish EPA's schedule for issuing a RFS for 2014 and 2015. In its filing, EPA stated that it would ask the court to approve the proposed consent decree only after a 30-day public comment period on the proposal, and provided the comments do not 'disclose facts or considerations which indicate that the decree is inappropriate, improper, inadequate, or inconsistent with the Clean Air Act's requirements.' The proposed consent decree has not yet been published in theFederal Register.
Pursuant to the consent decree, EPA would propose volume requirements for 2015 by June 1, 2015, issue in final volume requirements for 2014 and 2015, and resolve a pending waiver petition for 2014 by November 30, 2015. The waiver was submitted by API and AFPM to reduce the RFS blending requirements for 2014 to reflect the actual volumes of renewable fuels that were used in 2014.
Outside of the scope of the consent decree, EPA is also committing to the following: (1) proposing the 2016 RFS volume requirements by June 1, 2015, and issuing them in final by November 30, 2015; (2) proposing and promulgating the RFS biomass-based diesel volume requirement for 2017 also by June 1, 2015, and November 30, 2015, respectively; and (3) by June 1, 2015, re-proposing volume requirements for 2014 to reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.
This action is significant because RFS stakeholders have been waiting for EPA to promulgate the 2014 RFS requirements, and to propose the 2015 requirements. Regulatory action in this area will help restore stability and confidence in the biofuels industry, which has suffered from the 2014 and 2015 RFS program delays.