EPA approves Argentina’s biofuels for RFS program

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On January 27, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the importation of biodiesel made from soybeans from Argentinian biofuel producers as qualifying for U.S. biofuel credits under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Argentina's Biofuels Chamber's (CARBIO) request for an 'Alternative Renewable Biomass Tracking Requirement' was approved, which allows foreign manufacturers to be part of the RFS if they follow certain environmental standards. The U.S. biodiesel industry has criticized this pathway approval for Argentinian biodiesel because it is believed to be less rigorous than other certification standards used previously. Before this pathway was approved, individual Argentinian biofuel producers could still qualify for the RFS program on their own, but the new method through CARBIO will allow all interested companies to be tracked as a consortium. EPA does not expect the approval to result in competition with domestic biofuel producers. This claim is strongly disputed by U.S. agricultural and biofuel groups. The Argentinian biodiesel industry has a production capacity of well over 1 billion gallons, which could displace a large percentage of the RFS volume requirement of 1.28 billion gallons, which to date has been made up primarily of U.S. product.

The National Biodiesel Board and others have sought the views of the EPA Administrator and have asked EPA to revisit this pathway decision. If EPA does not change its position, the organizations may consider legal options. In addition, there is currently a group of about 30 U.S. Senators who have called for EPA to reverse the rule.

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