Update: EU Action Amending Renewable Energy Directive

Here’s a quick update to developments in Europe, reported in my April 16, 2015 blog entry.

EU Renewable Energy Directive


Proposed revisions to the RED. On April 28, the full EU Parliament approved the final compromise for amending the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) that had previously been announced on April 14. The approved amendment to the RED will cap food-based biofuels at 7%, will set an optional target of 0.5% for advanced biofuels (which would count double towards meeting each member state’s targets), and would require reporting of indirect land use change (ILUC) but not require that ILUCs be taken into account when calculating carbon intensities under the directive. The amendment apparently needs to be ratified by the Council of the EU in June. More details on this most recent action can be found here.

According to press reports, this amendment remains controversial. Most industry groups have endorsed it as a useful next step in moving EU biofuel usage towards second generation fuels; while NGOs and environmental groups expressed disappointment that stricter limits were not placed on food-based fuels and that accounting for ILUC was not made mandatory. My view pretty much corresponds to the industry consensus — it’s far from a perfect law, and I would have preferred to see much stronger incentives for second generation biofuels such as cellulosic fuels, photosynthetic fuels, etc. And it’s somewhat distressing that it took 3 long years of debate and controversy to get to this result, which unfortunately doesn’t bode well for the prospects for further reform in the coming years. But what’s the famous quote about a long journey starting with a single step? Maybe that will prove to be the case here.

D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. Dr. Glass previously served as director of regulatory affairs for Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels

 

Recent Developments on Renewable Fuels Policies

It’s been a busy start to 2015 for me, and so I haven’t had much free time for new posts to the blog. However, there have been numerous developments relating to the regulations and policies affecting renewable fuels. The following are brief summaries of some of these developments.

U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard


Schedule announced for issuance of annual volume mandates
.The U.S. EPA has still not issued a final rule to set the volume mandates under the RFS for 2014. Instead, the agency has been working on a single proposal to cover volume mandates for 2015, 2015 and 2016. More recent developments have affected these plans. On March 18, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and American Petroleum Institute filed suit against EPA in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, asking the Court to require EPA to promptly issue the delayed volume mandates for 2014 and 2015. Late last week, it was reported that EPA will enter into a consent agreement with AFPM and API to settle this suit, under which EPA will commit to a schedule for issuing the delayed mandates. According to EPA’s website, this schedule is as follows.

  • Finalize the 2014 volume mandate by November 30. In addition, although not covered by the consent order, EPA said that it would issue a new proposal for the 2014 mandates by June 1, reflecting the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014, to be the basis for the final rule due by November.
  • Issue proposed 2015 and 2016 volume mandates by June 1 and finalize them by November 30 (the 2016 commitment is outside the scope of the consent decree).
  • Also outside the consent decree, EPA said it will finalize the biomass-based diesel volume requirements for 2017, as required under the law, on the same June-to-November schedule.

Cellulosic waiver credits. In the meantime, the agency has announced other activities, including issuance of a direct final rule clarifying how EPA calculates cellulosic waiver credit prices under the RFS. Cellulosic waiver credits are available for obligated parties to show compliance with the cellulosic biofuel standard in any year in which EPA reduces the cellulosic volume mandate, as it has done for the past several years.

New RFS pathway petitions. EPA has also begun granting petitions for new fuel pathways under the RFS, under the procedures it announced in September 2014 (as described in my October 2, 2014 entry and follow-up posts in Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels). Most of the approved petitions are for corn starch-to-ethanol pathways under the newly-instituted Efficient Producer program, but recent approvals have also included a new pathway for production of ethanol from algae, submitted by Algenol Biofuels.

EU Renewable Energy Directive


Proposed revisions to the RED. There’s been quite a bit of back-and-forth about the proposed amendment to the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and its companion legislation the Fuel Quality Directive, but it appears that a political compromise has been reached. As last reported in Biofuel Policy Watch, European legislators and bureaucrats have been trying to reach agreement on amendments to these directives that would cap the contribution that food-based biofuels could make to the EU-wide goal of deriving at least 10% of energy in the transport sector from renewable fuels by 2020, while also finding a way to encourage the development and use of advanced biofuels not relaying on agricultural feedstocks. On April 1, 2015, representatives of the European Commission, the Parliament and the individual member states, meeting in so-called “trilogue” sessions, have agreed to cap food-based fuels at 7%, up from the original level of 5% first proposed in 2012. However, there appears to be no binding target for the percentage of the fuel supply to be attained by advanced biofuels.

A final compromise appears to have been reached by members of Parliament on April 14. According to reports, the amendment to the RED will cap food-based biofuels at 7%, will set an optional target of 0.5% for advanced biofuels, and would require reporting of indirect land use change (ILUC) but not require that ILUCs be taken into account when calculating carbon intensities under the directive. The proposal still needs the approval of the full Parliament, which is reportedly scheduled for April 29.

Oregon Low Carbon Fuel Standard


Oregon Clean Fuels Program will be fully implemented
. The early months of 2015 saw a great deal of activity regarding the Oregon Clean Fuels Program, a state law similar to the low-carbon fuel standard that has been in place in California for some time. It was last reported in the blog that the state’s Environmental Quality Commission had issued regulations to implement the Program, but that the legislature was about to again begin work on passing legislation to remove the “sunset date” under which the law would have expired at the end of 2015. A bill to remove the sunset date was approved by the Oregon Senate in February and debate in the House took place through early March, amidst a political scandal that drove newly-reelected Governor John Kitzhaber from office. Final House approval of the bill came on March 4. Kitzhaber’s successor, Governor Kate Brown, signed the bill on March 12, ensuring the continued implementation of the law going forward. I hope to analyze the regulations in a future blog post, but it is good to see that this law will remain on the books and will begin to be implemented. If progress can also be made in Washington State, we may yet see a situation where the entire U.S. and Canadian west coast would maintain incentives for adoption of renewable transportation fuels.

D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. Dr. Glass previously served as director of regulatory affairs for Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels

 

Biofuels Law Conference: Discussion of International Biofuel Policies

On May 2, 2014, I presented a talk at the Energy Bioscience Institute (EBI) 6th Annual Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference at the University of Illinois, summarizing a number of key legal, policy and regulatory issues affecting the development of the biofuels industry in the U.S. and internationally. The slides from that presentation can be found here. In this series of posts in Biofuel Policy Watch, I’m elaborating on the issues I discussed in the presentation.  These posts are not meant to provide comprehensive summaries of the issues at hand, but instead to highlight some key aspects of my presentation and other discussions at the EBI conference. For most of these policy issues, you can find background information in other posts on this blog and my Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels blog, and I’ll provide links such previous posts where possible.

In today’s post, I’ll briefly cover some of the international issues I discussed in the EBI presentation. I’ll also provide some brief updates on important international developments that have occurred in the weeks since that presentation. The two issues I highlighted in my talk were the EU Renewable Energy Directive and its importance in promoting the use of biofuels, particularly advanced biofuels, in the EU, and the need for consistent, broader, enforceable mandates for ethanol and biodiesel use in countries around the world. My talk also touched on issues relating to international trade harmonization.

European Union Renewable Energy Directive.  As I’ve described in several previous blog posts, the EU Renewable Energy Directive (along with its companion legislation the Fuel Quality Directive) is the major regulatory policy promoting the use of renewable fuels in the EU. As discussed last year in Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels, the EU RED was put in place in 2009 to establish the goal for all EU member states to derive 20% of their overall energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, including 10% of energy consumption within the transportation sector by the same year. This would be accompanied by concomitant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as these targets are met. Companies selling transportation fuels to the public would be required to utilize fuels certified as renewable in order to meet these goals, while developers or producers of fuels had certain requirements to meet in order to demonstrate that the fuel is indeed produced renewably and sustainably.

As is the case with all EU directives, the 28 EU member states are obligated to adopt national laws containing all the provisions of the RED, and so the directive is enforced at the national level in all EU states. Compliance to date has therefore varied considerably from country to country, although it seems clear that the directive has led to increased adoption of renewable transportation fuels across the EU, and a number of renewable fuel producers have had their fuels certified as complying with the requirements of the directive.

However, most of the renewable fuels used to date in the EU have been first-generation fuels such as corn or sugar beet derived ethanol, or biodiesel or other renewable diesel fuels largely derived from vegetable oils or oilseed crops, so the mandates of the RED have become entangled with the politics of the “food vs. fuel” debates that are prominent in Europe. This led to the proposal, in October 2012, of an amendment to the RED that was aimed at discouraging the use of food-derived biofuels and encouraging the use of advanced biofuels not produced from food crops. The main feature of this proposal, which was originally described in a January 2013 post on this blog, was to establish a ceiling on the amounts of food-derived fuels that could be included in the volume of renewable fuel that each EU member state would count towards meeting its volume obligations. As originally proposed, this ceiling was 5%, meaning that, regardless of how much food-based biofuel was used in any country, the amount that could be applied towards the overall goals of renewable fuel use would be limited to 5% of the total transport fuel usage in the country.

In the months that followed, this proposal was debated at various levels within the EU, including by several different committees of the EU Parliament. On September 11, 2013, the full EU Parliament adopted a proposal which would set a limit of 6% for food-derived fuels, while setting separate targets for the use of advanced biofuels in the overall transport sector at 0.5% by 2016 and 2.5% by 2020. However, in meetings in December 2013, the Energy Ministers from EU nations failed to reach agreement on the path forward for these amendments, after considering compromise language that would have raised the limit on crop-based biofuels to 7% but would also have required mandatory reporting of indirect land use change (ILUC), the latter generally being opposed by the industry.

This stalemate persisted until only recently. In May 2014, a group of EU diplomats proposed a revised version of a proposed amendment which was agreed to by the Energy Council of the European Council in June 2014. The key provisions of this policy are a 7% cap on food-based biofuels as of the 2020 target date, an invitation to member states to promote the adoption of second and third generation biofuels by setting a national target for advanced biofuels of 0.5% of total fuel usage, among several other provisions. This proposal apparently still needs to be ratified by the Parliament, but the general reaction to this development was that the logjam was broken and that these are the changes that will be adopted as policy.

During my talk at the EBI conference, I didn’t come out in favor of any particular proposed amendment to the RED. However, I did stress the importance of maintaining the RED and the incentives it creates for biofuel usage, and, if amendments are to be adopted to the Directive, to be sure that they adequately address the goal of promoting the use of advanced (second or third generation) biofuels. It seems like the recent developments (which came after my talk at the conference in early May) are taking the policy in the right direction, although the final word will be written by the ultimate action by the EU Parliament.

International Trade Harmonization. The other broad international issue I touched upon in my talk is the issue of international trade policies. There have been recent developments relatating to some of the ongoing trade disputes between the EU and different regions of the world, several of which I’ve reported on in previous blog entries. One development has to do with the anti-dumping duties imposed in February 2013 by the EU on ethanol imported from the U.S. Apparently, companies were getting around this requirement by shipping U.S. ethanol to Norway, for subsequent importation into the EU. As a result of an investigation into this practice, on June 4, 2014, the European Commission decided to apply the duties on U.S.-originated ethanol coming into the EU from Norway. This action had been requested by the European trade association ePURE, which welcomed the news of the new duties. According to Ethanol Producer Magazine, a compliant in EU court filed in May 2013 by the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy challenging the decision to impose an anti-dumping duty is still ongoing.

Other recent developments relate to EU anti-dumping duties on biodiesel coming from Argentina and Indonesia. These sanctions were imposed by the EU in 2013, a decision which Argentina had already challenged in December 2013. In June 2014, it was announced that Indonesia had also begun to challenge these duties, by filing a notice with the World Trade Organization, requesting consultations with the EU about these anti-dumping measures. Even more recently, the European Commission announced that it may renew for another five years anti-dumping tariffs already in place against U.S. biodiesel exporters. These duties were to have expired on July 11, but in announcing its intent to launch two new inquiries to see how the situation may have changed since 2009, the tariffs will remain in effect for as long as the investigations last.

Although I don’t have any unusual perspective into these trade controversies, during my talk at the EBI conference I highlighted the need to resolve international trade disputes so that renewable fuels produced anywhere in the world could be imported to any other region of the world where there might be a market. I acknowledge each nation’s right to protect its domestic industries from cheaper foreign imports, but climate change and energy security are global issues facing all countries, which demand global solutions, and it seems to me that these frequent disputes only serve as roadblocks to accomplishing those goals.

D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels

Upcoming Presentation: Biofuel Legal and Policy Issues

This Friday, May 2, 2014, I will be presenting a talk at the 6th Annual Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference at the University of Illinois. My talk, entitled “Legal and Policy Issues Affecting Biofuel Development,” will briefly summarize a number of key legal, policy and regulatory issues that are critical for the successful development of the biofuels industry in the U.S. and internationally. The slides from that presentation can be found here, and after the conference, I’m planning a series of posts here on in Biofuel Policy Watch to elaborate on the issues I intend to cover in the presentation. These topics are as follows (with links to the blog posts describing each topic):

In each post, I’ll briefly summarize the issues I’ve presented in the talk, and to the extent possible I’ll also report on any relevant discussion on these topics that arose during the conference. I’ll be happy to answer any questions anyone may have on this presentation, these topics, and the forthcoming blog entries.

D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available atwww.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels

 

International Biofuel News: February 20, 2014

Here’s an update on recent news items and other public policy developments in recent weeks relating to the development and commercialization of renewable fuels in Europe.

European Union Renewable Energy Directive


In news relating to the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED), it was announced that the European Commission had filed suit in the EU Court of Justice against the Republic of Ireland for its alleged failure to implement its obligations under the RED.

Also in February, the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change issued updated statistics for the U.K.’s compliance with its RED obligations, showing that 1.34 billion liters of renewable fuels were used in the12-month reporting period that ended in April 2013. This represented 3% of the total road transport fuels used in the U.K. in that time period.

On January 22, 2014, the European Commission issued its 2030 framework for climate and energy policies, to extend EU’s goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions beyond 2020 when the RED will end. Many in the biofuel industry were disappointed that this proposal did not include any proposals for binding targets for renewable fuel use in motor vehicle transport beyond 2020.

European Union Ethanol Policies


EU ethanol anti-dumping actions
.  In late January 2014, the European ethanol trade association ePure filed a formal complaint with the European Commission, alleging that U.S. ethanol producers are illegally dumping ethanol at low prices onto the European market in circumvention of the anti-dumping duties the EU imposed on U.S. ethanol in February 2013. The allegation is that U.S. ethanol is being exported to Norway, which is not an EU member state, and then exported from Norway into the EU in the form of E48 ethanol/gasoline blends. ePure says that Norwegian ethanol imports from the U.S. have grown tenfold in the past year.

More recently, ePure has also pointed to rising exports of ethanol from Peru into the EU, following the entry into force of the EU’s Free Trade Agreement with certain Central and South American countries in August 2013. The association claims that a three-fold increase of ethanol exports from Peru to the EU to over 93 million liters in the first ten months of 2013 has corresponded to exports from the U.S. into Peru of about 84 million liters in the same time period.

The subject of dumping and the EU ethanol tariffs was the cause for a spirited debate at a panel session of the National Ethanol Conference on February 18, 2014, in which Rob Vierhout, the head of ePure, defended the need for tariffs against assertions made by Bob Dineen, the executive director of the Renewable Fuels Association and other North American industry representatives.

Previous Biofuel Policy Watch posts on international biofuel news:

D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels

 

Biofuel Policy Updates January 24, 2014

Here’s a quick wrap-up of some recent developments relating to biofuel policies in the U.S., particularly relating to the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

2014 RFS volume mandates. The end of the public comment period is approaching on the US EPA’s proposed rule for the 2014 volume mandates (renewable volume obligations, or RVOs) under the RFS. As I reported in my 2013 year-end summary, this proposal represented the first time that EPA was proposing to reduce not only the targets for cellulosic fuels, but also the mandated volumes both for advanced biofuels (a category which includes cellulosic fuels) and the overall target for all renewable fuels. The biofuel industry and its proponents have been up in arms about this proposal, conducting an intense war of words in the media, the Twittersphere, and elsewhere, with numerous companies, trade groups, elected officials and others publicly voicing their opinions opposing these reductions in the RVOs. The public comment period closes on January 28, 2014, and it is not known how quickly EPA will respond and set the final 2014 volume mandates. My prediction is that EPA will respond to the public comments by raising the volumes from the levels in the proposed rule, but not restore them to the levels originally set in the RFS legislation.

Challenges to the RFS. In October 2013,  the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) filed petitions with the EPA challenging the 2013 cellulosic biofuel volume mandates, in view of an August 2013 announcement from KiOR that the company was lowering its projections for the amount of cellulosic biofuels it would be able to produce that year. On January 23, 2014, EPA announced, in letters to API and AFPM posted on its website, that it was partially granting these petitions for reconsideration of the 2013 cellulosic RVOs, based on the “new information” from KiOR, and that EPA expected to propose such revised volume mandates in upcoming rulemaking. I haven’t yet seen any industry reaction to this announcement, but I’m sure that responses from the biofuel industry will be swift and harsh, especially coming so closely on the heels of EPA’s proposed reduction in the 2014 RVOs. Note that the October 2013 petitions are different from the petitions filed by API and AFPM in August 2013 asking for a partial waiver of the 2014 RVOs, and are also in addition to a lawsuit these groups and others had filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the 2013 volume mandates.

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The full 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision on January 22, 2014 that it would not, after all, rehear a case previously decided in favor of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), when a 3-judge panel of the Court ruled by a 2-1 vote that the LCFS did not unconstitutionally discriminate against out-of-state fuel producers. That panel decision reversed a lower court decision that went against CARB. The decision not to rehear the case leaves the decision by the 3-judge panel in place and would allow CARB to continue to administer the LCFS program. However, seven justices on the Court signed on to a dissent that is widely believed could signal the path for the industry groups who are the plaintiffs to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The crux of the dispute is whether the requirement that the energy costs of transporting fuel into California from other states be considered in determining the carbon intensity of fuels under the LCFS discriminates against out-of-state fuels in violation of the Constitution’s provisions that prohibit states from interfering with interstate commerce. 

 

Year-End Biofuel Policy Wrap-Up

The close of 2013 seems to be a good time to post a quick wrap-up of some recent developments relating to biofuel policies in the U.S. and Europe, particularly relating to the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED). As some of these stories have already been widely reported in the trade press and onlnie, I have not included links for all the stories — please contact me for more information on any of these developments.

2014 RFS volume mandates. As has been widely reported, the US EPA published its proposed rule for the 2014 volume mandates (renewable volume obligations, or RVOs) under the RFS. In the proposal, EPA used its statutory authority to propose reduction of certain of the volume mandates below what was called for in the original 2007 legislation. This included a substantial reduction in the target for cellulosic fuels, as has been done in recent years, to a level corresponding to EPA’s assessment of actual gallons of cellulosic fuel expected to be produced next year. But for the first time, EPA used its authority to also lower the mandated volumes both for advanced biofuels (a category which includes cellulosic fuels) and the overall target for all renewable fuels, the latter being reduced by about 3 billion gallons. Combined, these adjustments also lead to about a 1 billion gallon reduction in the portion of the mandates corresponding to corn ethanol.

This is only a proposed rule, and EPA is taking comments on the proposal until January 28, 2014. The proposal elicited the expected vehement reactions on both sides of the renewable fuels debate, and biofuel supporters have been pulling out all the stops to convince EPA to scale back or eliminate the proposed reductions in the mandates.

EPA has held public hearings on this proposal. A hearing in Washington DC on December 5 drew approximately 150 commenters over a 12-hour period. Reportedly, RFS supporters outnumbered RFS opponents roughly 2-to-1. The outcome of all the public comments and debate will likely not be known until after the close of the public comment period.

Challenges to the RFS. Among pending actions challenging the RFS are the following.

  • EPA has requested public comment on the petition asking for a waiver of the 2014 RVOs filed in August 2013 by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). Public comments have been requested by January 28, 2014.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals has agreed to expedite review of a pending lawsuit challenging the 2013 volume mandates that EPA issued in August 2013. The Court had previously consolidated three separate lawsuits filed by API, AFPM, and Monroe Energy. A number of organizations have filed briefs on both sides of the issue, including BIO and the National Biodiesel Board in defense of the 2013 volume mandates. The case should move quickly after a February 2014 deadline for submission of all briefs.

Congressional action. Although EPA’s proposal to lower the 2014 mandates may have temporarily quieted Congressional Republican efforts to repeal the RFS in its entirety, at least two new bills have been, or are expected to be, filed in Congress to revise the RFS, in addition to at least one bill addressing the tax credits due to expire today, December 31, 2013.

  • On December 13, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and eight cosponsors introduced the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013. The bill eliminates the corn ethanol mandate within the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires annual increases in the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended into the total volume of gasoline refined and consumed in the United States. Cosponsors of the bill are Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Corker, (R-Tenn.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.).
  • Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and David Vitter (R-La), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, have been widely reported to also be working on legislation that would curtail corn’s portion of the RFS mandate. Details on this bill have not yet been disclosed.
  • On December 11, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the RFS. Although testimony and statements from committee members were heard on both sides of the issue, Committee Chair Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) reportedly closed the hearing by indicating that her committee would not be pursuing any legislation that would “reverse course” on the RFS.
  • On Dec. 12, Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif), introduced H.R., 3758, which would extend the second generation biofuel producer credit and the special allowance for second generation biofuel plant property. The bill, entitled the “Second Generation Biofuel Extension Act of 2013,” would extend both the second generation biofuel tax credit and the second generation biofuel plant property allowance for one year, extending the expiration dates from to Jan. 1, 2015.

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The full 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will rehear a case previously decided in favor of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), when a 3-judge panel of the Court ruled by a 2-1 vote that the LCFS did not unconstitutionally discriminate against out-of-state fuel producers. That panel decision reversed a lower court decision that went against CARB. Briefs have been filed on both sides of the issue, but it is not known when the full Appeals Court will decide the issue.

European Union Renewable Energy Directive. In meetings December 12-13, the Energy Ministers from EU nations failed to reach agreement on the path forward for amendments to the Renewable Energy Directive. In particular, the ministers rejected a compromise proposal from Lithuania that would have capped crop-based biofuels at 7% (up from the 6% limit passed by the European Parliament) but would also have required mandatory reporting of indirect land use change (ILUC). This action apparently means that the proposal will not advance any further until after the 2014 parliamentary elections, and assures that there will not be final action until sometime in 2015. In the meantime, the provisions of the Renewable Energy Directive remain in place as originally adopted.