The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to delay the deadline for oil refineries to comply with the nation’s biofuel regulation past March 31, to help the industry cope with fallout from the coronavirus, agency chief Andrew Wheeler said on Thursday.
Asked about the possibility on a conference call with reporters, Wheeler said he would make an announcement “as soon as tomorrow.”
Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, oil refiners must earn or purchase biofuel blending credits called RINs to prove that billions of gallons of biofuels like corn-based ethanol have been added to the nation’s fuel pool each year.
The regulation has created a lucrative market for the corn industry, but refiners say it costs them a fortune. Since the pandemic, the oil industry has asked for broad regulatory relief to help it survive sharply reduced global demand for fuel and lower on-site staffing levels.
The annual requirement for the RFS comes due for the 2019 compliance year on March 31.
Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Tom Brown