E15 Rule Expected in February

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Agriculture interests waiting to hear what's next from EPA on the regulatory front -- including a possible rule to allow year-round E15 -- need wait no longer.

On Wednesday, the agency released its unified fall 2018 agenda. Included is EPA's plan to release a proposed E15 rule by February 2019 with the idea of finalizing the rule by May 2019.

Included in that rule, according to the agenda, are proposed reforms to the market for renewable identification numbers, or RINs, in response to refiner concerns about the costs to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Last week, President Donald Trump announced during a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, that his administration was ready to "unleash the power of E15."

In addition, the agency provided some insight into its plans for rewriting the waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule.

By March 2019, the EPA is set to finalize a first rule to revert the WOTUS definition back to pre-2015, the year the Obama-era rule was completed. Then, the overall rewrite of the WOTUS rule is set for finalization in September 2019.

EPA Spokesman Michael Abboud told DTN the dates aren't necessarily set in stone, as the agency has the ability to advance rules on a faster timeline if needed.

In addition, the EPA agenda includes finalizing RFS volumes for 2019 and biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020 sometime next month. The agency also has the next round of proposed volumes set for finalizing in December 2019.

SCIENCE TRANSPARENCY RULE

On April 30, 2018, the EPA, led by then Administrator Scott Pruitt, proposed a data transparency rule to improve transparency in the science used by the agency to draft regulations.

That proposal has faced heavy criticism because of concern it would exclude the use of otherwise valuable science from EPA rulemaking.

On Wednesday, the agency announced in its agenda the rule is set for finalization in January 2020. Abboud told DTN the transparency rule was placed on the long-term action list because the agency does not expect to publish an action on the rule within the next 12 months.

After the transparency rule was released, EPA received a variety of public feedback. The agency held a public hearing on July 17, 2018, in Washington, D.C. During a 108-day public comment period, EPA received more than 597,000 written comments. Because of the scope and volume of comments, the agency needs time to consider all aspects of the rule before taking final action.

The EPA also expects to finalize a rule in May 2019 that exempts farms from reporting requirements on air emissions from animal waste, from the emergency release notification requirements in the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The EPA agenda said the agency also is proposing the addition of definitions of "farm" and "animal waste" to the EPCRA regulations.

In addition, EPA intends to finalize a rule in September 2019 to reconsider minimum age requirements for pesticide applicators.

A rule went into effect on March 6, 2017, but as a result of Trump's executive order 13777 that called on federal agencies to identify possible regulations for repeal, the EPA announced in December 2017 it was reconsidering the minimum age provision.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(AG/CZ)