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By   Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A. 

EPA, on January 15, 2021, issued a proposed rule to modify certain compliance dates under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The proposed deadline extension for the 2019 compliance year and the associated deadline for submission of attest engagement reports for the 2019 compliance year for small refineries are as follows: November 30, 2021, and June 1, 2022, respectively. The second extension would be for the 2020 compliance year and the associated deadline for submission of attest engagement reports for obligated parties and Renewable Identification Number (RIN)-generating renewable fuel producers and importers, among other parties holding RINs. The new deadlines for these would be January 31, 2022, and June 1, 2022, respectively.

Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by March 11, 2021. A virtual public hearing will take place on February 9, 2021, to discuss questions and concerns about the proposed rule.


On August 18, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report stating that EPA has not complied with federal requirements to study the effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The report, "EPA Has Not Met Certain Statutory Requirements to Identify Environmental Impacts of Renewable Fuel Standard," found that while EPA is required to provide a report to Congress every three years on the impact of biofuels, there has not been a report since 2011. It was also determined that EPA's Office of Air and Radiation has not analyzed or addressed any negative air quality impacts of RFS despite anti-backsliding requirements, and that EPA has not followed through on a commitment to update a 2010 lifecycle analysis (LCA).

EPA has stated that it plans to complete a report on the impact of the RFS by the end of 2017, and has agreed to corrective actions and timelines to address the rest of the issues brought up in the report. Environmental groups expect that the land-use change models used in the new study will show that the environmental impacts of biofuel production will outweigh the benefits of biofuels. Bob Dinneen, President of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) disagrees, stating that the RFA is confident that the new studies "will show that biofuels like ethanol are significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, even above the threshold reductions." Reevaluating the environmental impact of the RFS with newer science is critical for all fuel stakeholders, as well as for EPA to make well-informed policy decisions going forward.