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Oil

US boosts biofuel quotas as gasoline prices surge

Published: Updated:

The Biden administration is seeking to balance competing political and economic pressures with quotas for the use of biofuels such as corn-based ethanol that largely track earlier plans.

The US Environmental Protection Agency will require refiners and importers to mix 20.63 billion gallons of renewable fuel into gasoline and diesel this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

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The agency also is paring biofuel-blending quotas retroactively for 2020 and imposing requirements for 2021 that tracked actual consumption, said the people, who asked not to be named before a formal announcement later Friday.

The final 2022 target hews close to an earlier proposal, advanced last year, to require some 20.77 billion gallons of renewable fuels.

As much as 15 billion gallons of that could be fulfilled with conventional renewable fuels, such as ethanol, with advanced biofuels supplying at least 5.63 billion gallons.

The EPA is also rejecting dozens of small refinery requests for exemptions from earlier quotas.

The mandates come as President Joe Biden battles record-high gasoline prices, climbing food costs and inflationary pressures that threaten the US economic recovery as well as Democrats’ grip on Congress after the November midterm elections.

EPA spokespeople declined to comment on the targets, but the agency said in an emailed statement it would announce several actions later Friday “that will help provide a path for the sustained growth of renewable fuels and reinforce the foundation of the Renewable Fuel Standard program.”

The agency said the actions “reflect the Biden administration’s commitment to reset and strengthen the RFS, bolster our nation’s energy security and support homegrown biofuel alternatives to oil for transportation fuel.”

Biden administration officials have deliberated for months about how to set targets that are high enough to encourage greater use of biofuels without stoking excessive demand for supplies of corn, soybeans and other commodity crops that are already strained amid the war in Ukraine.

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