EPA Completes Review of RFS Pathway Petition Process; Publishes New Industry Guidance

On Tuesday this week, September 30, EPA announced (without much fanfare) that they had completed their review of the New Pathway Petition process under the Renewable Fuel Standard, and that it was issuing new guidance to companies to assist in the preparation and submission of new petitions (many developers of novel renewable fuels need to petition EPA to have their production pathway approved as meeting the requirements of the RFS; see this earlier blog post for more background info). As I reported in a March 20, 2014 blog entry, EPA issued a Program Announcement in March to say that it was initiating activities to improve the petition process for new RFS fuel pathways.  At that time, EPA said that it found “that improvements should be made to the petition process to enable more timely and efficient decision-making” in the RFS program, particularly including improved guidance to companies considering submitting new petitions, and with the goal of substantially reducing the large backlog and long processing times for pending petitions. The agency asked companies to voluntarily hold off on submitting new petitions during this process, which was expected to take 6 months, a time frame which was indeed met by this week’s announcement.

One significant outcome of the agency’s review has been creation of a greatly-improved website with information on many aspects of the petition program. This can be found at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/new-pathways. The site features easily-understood menus with links to guidance on the petition process, information about the regulations governing new pathways, and the web pages listing approved and pending petitions. Most importantly, EPA has issued a new guidance document for industry, with detailed instructions for how to prepare new pathway petitions, which can now be submitted electronically via EPA’s web server. Also posted on the web is a screening tool, in the form of a spreadsheet that the agency wants companies to use to submit the data needed for EPA to complete the life cycle analysis of the pathway that is required under the regulations.

I have only just begun to review the Guidance document and the other new materials. I plan to post a more detailed summary and analysis of the guidance document within the next 1-2 weeks. Also, I will be discussing and analyzing this new policy at a talk at the BIO Pacific Rim conference this coming December (the talk will also cover the petition process under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard). So please look for further blog posts this fall as I continue to study and familiarize myself with this new guidance, and as I prepare my presentation for December.

D. Glass Associates, Inc.is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory affairs support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. More information on D. Glass Associates’ regulatory affairs consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Biofuel Policy Watch.