INSIDE CFAA: Champions, Allies Stand Up for Clean Fuels

By Paul Winters | May 29, 2023

In fall 2022, the biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry relished the prospect of an upward trajectory for Renewable Fuel Standard volumes. In June, the U.S. EPA had finalized the largest-ever annual increase in biomass-based diesel volumes under the RFS. In December 2022, however, EPA proposed a disappointing three-year RFS rule that would support growth of just 190 million gallons in the biomass-based diesel volumes. The proposal discounted the investments in feedstocks, fuel production and infrastructure the industry is making.

The U.S. EIA and University of Illinois both foresee rapid growth of U.S. renewable diesel capacity to 6 billion gallons by 2025—on top of the 2 billion gallons of active biodiesel capacity. And U.S. soy processors have announced billions in investments to expand or build new crush capacity.

The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel market grew by 500 million gallons in 2022. And U.S. production of both fuels continues to increase. The market is already 33% higher in the first three months of 2023 than in the same time period of 2022. Clean Fuels launched aggressive efforts to show EPA that their RFS proposal missed the mark. And congressional champions stepped up in support.

In mid-April, a bipartisan group of 37 representatives sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, urging him to right-size the biomass-based diesel volumes. “Expansion and investments throughout the biomass-based diesel value chain have been vast over the past several years,” the representatives wrote. “The proposed RVOs do not acknowledge these investments on the ground, undercutting these expansions and unnecessarily putting them at risk—a potential blow to rural economies across the country.”

The same day, a bipartisan group of 16 U.S. senators delivered a similar letter to Administrator Regan. The group emphasized the need to increase RFS volumes to accurately reflect market conditions. “The proposed volumes are inaccurate, would shrink the market, put nearly $5 billion near-term investments to increase crush capacity at risk, and destabilize the development of sustainable aviation fuel. EPA’s proposal sets volumes lower than current blending levels—lower than the added capacity that is coming online in 2023 alone—and is inconsistent with estimates of production,” the group wrote.

And in May, a group of allied trade associations joined Clean Fuels in a new letter to EPA, highlighting the growing demand for biodiesel and renewable diesel. “The administration’s policies and programs are designed to leverage private sector investments to increase use of clean fuels and decarbonize the nation’s supply chain,” the associations wrote. “The proposed [RFS] volumes are simply inconsistent with the investments our industries have made and plan to make to expand production and commercial availability of these fuels by 2025.”

Clean Fuels continues to engage with EPA to demonstrate the growth of the biodiesel, renewable diesel and SAF industry, as well as the continued availability of sustainable feedstocks like soybean oil. The industry has always outpaced EPA’s RFS volumes and will continue to engage with the agency to ensure the program’s success.

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