(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency said he will confer with legal and policy teams to understand the options available for setting mandates to blend biofuels into the nation’s fuel mix beyond 2022.
Michael Regan also said he has had conversations with other members of the Biden administration, including Biden’s pick for the Agriculture Department, to discuss the role biofuels can play in combating climate change, according to written responses from Regan to questions submitted to him by Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa.
Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels into their fuel mix or buy credits from those that do. Refiners can apply for an exemption if they can prove the requirements harm them financially.
The RFS includes volume mandates up to 2022 that grow each year.
The law is a hot-button issue across the U.S. Farm Belt, as the requirements have created a huge market for corn. The oil industry follows it closely as well, as the obligations are expensive for refiners and the mandate represents increased competition for fossil fuels.
Both industries will watch how the administration will handle the RFS after 2022, when the EPA will determine annual volumes.
“I will confer with my legal and policy team to understand all of the options before me regarding the RFS program, and in this specific case, how to set the RFS volume requirements beyond 2022,” he said, in response to a question from Ernst asking whether he will try to grow the use of advanced biofuels like biomass-based diesel.
If confirmed, Regan will have a number of outstanding issues surrounding the RFS to deal with, including setting renewable volume obligations for 2021.
(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)