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EPA agrees to ethanol mandate deadines

The EPA recently settled an oil industry lawsuit and agreed to set the ethanol blending mandates for this year and last year by Nov. 30.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently settled an oil industry lawsuit and agreed to set the ethanol blending mandates for this year and last year by Nov. 30.

The 2014 mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard will be two years late and this year’s will be one year late. But with an end to the delays finally in sight, the settlement ends a dispute that angered both the oil industry and ethanol producers.

“This schedule is consistent with EPA’s commitment to get the RFS program back on track while providing certainty to renewable fuels markets and promoting the long-term growth of renewable fuels,” the agency said in a statement.

"Our goal is to provide the market with the certainty it needs to continue to grow renewable fuel volumes," Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA's office of transportation and air quality, told reporters on Friday, according to The Hill.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires that fuel refiners mix a certain volume of ethanol into gasoline and biodiesel into diesel each year. The EPA is legally obligated to set those volume mandates by Nov. 30 each year for the following year.

“The EPA has failed time and time again to uphold their obligation to lead the way in implementing the RFS by setting annual ethanol mandates,” Nicole Vasilaros, director for federal and legal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said in the NMMA newsletter Currents.

“The agency is grossly behind its deadlines, further proving that it is Congress who must act to reform the broken RFS,” Vasilaros said. “A failure to reform this law will result in additional damage to marine engines, costly repairs and additional risk during an important time of economic recovery and growth for the recreational boating industry.”

The agency proposed in 2013 to reduce the ethanol mandate for the first time to 15.21 billion gallons, while keeping the biodiesel mandate the same as the previous year. After multiple delays, EPA officials said most recently that they would make final the 2014 mandate by the end of the spring.

The oil industry groups welcomed the settlement, but told The Hill they would rather see the EPA comply with the law. They said they still hope Congress either repeals or significantly reforms the law to reduce the amount of ethanol that must be used.

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