EPA to issue final RFS2 rule in December

By | October 14, 2009
The U.S EPA hopes to issue its highly anticipated final rule on the revised renewable fuels standard by the end of this year, according to EPA spokesman Dave Ryan. "We're working diligently to complete the rule so all relevant provisions can be implemented in 2010," he said.

The comment period for the proposed ruling was extended three months to Sept. 25, and thousands of comments were received-the exact number of which EPA declined to give. However, the National Biodiesel Board estimated its campaign alone had generated over 8,000 responses during the public comment period. "We review all comments," Ryan said. "We make revisions to the rule as appropriate, not based on the number of comments on an issue but on the substance and importance of the comments."

In a letter to U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) just before the comment period closed, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson indicated industry furor over some of the proposed regulations had been heard. While citing feedback stating how important it is to take into account indirect emissions from biofuels, Jackson also said it was clear that there are significant uncertainties, in particular with the estimate of indirect land use change. "In the proposal, we asked for comment on whether and how to conduct an uncertainty analysis that could help quantify the magnitude of this uncertainty and its relative impact on the resulting life-cycle emissions estimates," Jackson wrote to Harkin. "The results of the peer review, and the feedback we have received from the comment process, supported the value of conducting such an analysis. Therefore, I have asked my staff to quantify the uncertainty associated with specifically the international indirect land use change emissions. They are working closely with USDA as well as incorporating feedback from experts who are commenting on the rule. This analysis will allow us to quantify the impact of the uncertainty on the life-cycle emissions. We will present these estimates in the final rule, and I plan to incorporate those estimates of uncertainty in my regulatory decisions."

Jackson was responding to Harkin's request for information regarding an amendment he had introduced to H.R. 2996-the Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010-that would have stopped funding for the EPA's implementation of any rule limiting biofuels based on indirect land use. "In light of the EPA letter, and because EPA had said it would delay issuing regulations to establish renewable fuel volume biofuel requirements for 2010," Harkin withdrew the amendment, according to spokesman Grant Gustafson.

In the House agricultural committee, Chairman Collin Peterson earlier successfully negotiated language in the Climate Change bill that passed the House, which would require a full analysis of indirect land use change impacts; and would also require agreement among the EPA, USDA and Congress before any resulting policy could be implemented, delaying any possible implementation for five years.

-Susanne Retka Schil
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