The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday revealed a proposed structured process for buyers of Renewable Identification Numbers in order to verify their validity.
Under the proposal, RINs would be verified through a new voluntary quality assurance program that also includes alternative compliance options.
Renewable fuel producers and importers generate RINs based on the volume of compliant renewable fuel that they make available. RINs can then be traded and used by petroleum refiners and importers to show compliance with their volume obligations.
Following a number of high profile RIN fraud cases, EPA expects its rulemaking to improve the overall liquidity in the RIN market and in particular make it easier for smaller renewable fuel producers to sell their RINs.
Part of the proposal to improve RIN verification includes a Quality Assurance Plan that would provide a recognized means for independent third parties to audit the production of renewable fuel and verify that RINs have been validly generated.
For RINs that have been verified according to an approved QAP, the program would provide protection against liability for civil violations resulting from the transfer or use of invalidly generated RINs under certain conditions. The rule would also specify both the conditions under which invalid RINs must be replaced with valid RINs, and by whom.
The proposed rule, which will be available for a 30-day public comment period, allows verification of RINs to begin this year. EPA will consider feedback from a range of stakeholders before the proposal is finalized.
Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs said the problem of invalid RINs was caused by a handful of wrongdoers who took advantage of good policy.
"Enforcement along with these tightened regulations will go a long way toward preventing anything like this from happening again," Steckel said.
Both Steckel and Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO, said they look forward to working with the EPA to ensure a successful program.
More information on the proposed rule and the RFS program can be found at epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm