At the House Oversight Committee’s hearing today on the RFS rule-making delays, the line from EPA was clear: we will issue the rules, just don’t ask us when.
Giving evidence, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe acknowledged that issuing new rules every year has become a “significant implementation challenge,” but reiterated in the hearing that the 2014, 2015 and 2016 rules will be finalized in 2015. Business hates uncertainty, however, and despite being repeatedly pressed on providing a date (or even providing a month) for when these rules will finally be issued, McCabe declined to give a specific—or even a vague—deadline date.
As to why there has been a delay in the first place, EPA served up two “extremely challenging” reasons. The first was the significant shortfall in cellulosic biofuel production, and the second was that 2014 was the first year the ethanol blendwall was hit.
Yet despite these challenges, McCabe stated that the 2014,2015 and 2016 rules would be implemented next year. Her inability to provide any date at all—other than to say EPA will “move expeditiously,” and that EPA is “committed” to getting these rules out in 2015 and meeting that deadline for 2016—tested the committee’s patience. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) slammed the lack of a date as “no way to run an agency,” and warned that the bills to repeal or reform the law could gain traction if the agency continues to miss its RFS deadlines. Representative James Lankford (R-OK) added, “We have heard for a year that it is coming. ‘It is coming’ is not enough.”
However, a troubling factor was raised towards the end of the hearing. When asked by Representative Lankford whether EPA had a timeline it could work to in order to ensure the rules are finalized, McCabe answered that this document “does not exist.” Representative Lankford’s response echoes the opinion of many in the refining industry: “If you have no plan or timeline, then there is no urgency.”