Waiting for a 2014 government mandate ??? in 2015

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It seems to be another one of those ???only in Washington??? kind of things.

Diesel refiners across the country are waiting for direction from the federal government to determine their biofuel requirements for 2014. But this is 2015, right?

That???s right.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wassupposed to implement the mandates for the nation???s Renewable Fuel Standard a year ago. That included requirements for blending biodiesel into standard diesel fuel that is sold at pumps across the country.

But the EPA hasn???t announced a decision, leading industry officials to complain it leaves them trying to comply with rules that aren???t on the books.

???This is an industry hanging on broken promises and leveraging everything waiting for the EPA to comply with the law,??? National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe said in a statement. ???We have dozens of producers just barely hanging on.???

So what???s the holdup?

In an email to, the EPA did not give a specific answer, saying it is ???committed??? to renewing the Renewable Fuel Standard and plans to act on the volume standards some time this spring. The agency also pointed to two RFS-related lawsuits filed in December.

According to law, volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard were supposed to be set already for 2014 as well as 2015 and 2016. The EPA has designated biodeisel as its first Advanced Biofuel under the RFS to reach commercial-scale production.

Ethanol is also required to be blended into the nation???s gasoline supply under the RFS.

Industry insiders suspect EPA officials are working out the details for the ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard, but say that???s no reason why the biodiesel portion of the RFS shouldn???t be approved immediately.

In a letter to the federal agency, Ben Wooton, a governing board member of the National Biodiesel Board who lost his Pennsylvania company to bankruptcy, took aim atEPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who last year said, ???While I would have preferred to have this rule done earlier, it hasn???t slowed down that industry that I can see.???

???I would invite Administrator McCarthy to come to my shuttered plant and talk to some of the laid off workers, or to visit practically any biodiesel plant across the country to see the damage that is taking place,??? Wootton said. ???It is beyond frustrating that an administration I have strongly supported has inflicted so much harm on an industry it says it supports.???

The industry touts figures released by the EPA that say biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel.

Critics say biofuels use up too much of the nation???s corn output and hurt the environment.

???Now, even the biofuel industry ??? the only stakeholder actually (benefiting) from our biofuel policy ??? is frustrated by this boondoggle,??? American foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead wrote in a blog post last week. ???Here???s an easy, sensible solution: scrap the program.???