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October 12, 2012
Renewable fuel amendments

In a direct final rule, the EPA has amended the definition of “heating oil” that qualifies for renewable identification numbers (RIN) under the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS).  Specifically, under the action, the heating oil category has been expanded to include fuel oil that will be used to generate heat to warm buildings or other facilities where people live, work, recreate, or conduct other activities.  This type of fuel will qualify for RINs provided other requirements in the RFS regulations are met.  The action also amends two aspects of the federal diesel sulfur program.

Home heating oil

The RFS program requires the production and use of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of fossil fuel in transportation fuel.  Producers or importers of qualifying fuel are entitled to RINs that are used to demonstrate compliance with the renewable fuel volume requirements.  Congress provided that the EPA could also establish provisions for the generation of credits by producers of nontransportation fuel used to replace or reduce the quantity of fossil fuel in home heating oil or jet fuel.  Currently, the RFS regs restrict home heating oil to fuels containing at least 80 percent mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oil or animal fats.  In response to requests from industry, the Agency is expanding the scope of the home heating oil provision to fuel oil used to heat interior spaces of homes or buildings to control ambient climate for human comfort.  Fuel used to generate process heat, power, or other functions does not qualify as home heating oil under the RFS.

Diesel transmix amendments

Transmix applies to a mixture of finished fuels that no longer meet the specifications for a fuel that can be used or sold without further processing.  Five transmix fuel companies had initiated legal action against the EPA for issuing sulfur content rules that restricted their ability to market their product.  The EPA subsequently settled with the companies.  The direct rule formalizes that settlement by reinstating an allowance for transmix processors to produce 500 ppm sulfur diesel fuel for use in older technology locomotive and marine (LM) diesel outside the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions after 2014. 

Yellow marker amendments

The yellow marker amendments address an oversight in the original nonroad diesel rulemak­ing.  In that rulemaking, the regulations failed to incorporate provisions described in the rule­making preamble.  The preamble made clear that the EPA intended to allow 500 ppm (LM) diesel fuel containing greater than 0.10 milligrams per liter of Solvent Yellow 124 (SY124) time to transition out of the fuel distribution system. However, the regulations as currently written do not provide any transition time for un­marked LM fuel delivered from a truck loading rack beginning June 1, 2012, to work its way through the fuel distribution system downstream of the truck loading rack. The current regulatory change will allow marked LM diesel fuel to transition normally through the LM fuel distribution and use system.  The rule also amends the regulations to clarify the transition of the SY124 marker out of heating oil beginning June 1, 2014.

The direct final amendments to the RFS and diesel sulfur programs were published in the October 9, 2012, FR.

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