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UPDATE 2-U.S. EPA allowed two-week extension to issue biofuel blending proposal

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By Stephanie Kelly and Jarrett Renshaw

NEW YORK, Nov 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a biofuels trade groups have agreed to extend by two weeks a deadline the agency has to issue a proposal on 2023 biofuel blending obligations, the trade group said on Friday.

Growth Energy trade group agreed to the EPA's request for a two-week extension on the condition that Nov. 30 be the final deadline to issue the proposal, it said in a press release. The deadline extension does not affect a deadline for finalizing the renewable fuel volume obligations by June 14.

In July, Growth Energy and the EPA submitted a consent decree agreement that required the EPA to propose 2023 renewable fuel volume requirements by Nov. 16.

The EPA is already late on a Nov. 1, 2021 deadline to finalize 2023 renewable fuel volume requirements.

Stakeholders, including biofuel producers and oil refiners, have been eagerly awaiting the proposal to understand obligations under the RFS for next year.

For years, U.S. administrations have had to deal with leaks ahead of releasing proposals for volume obligations. By delaying the proposal by two weeks, the EPA and White House are less likely to face information about the proposal being released ahead of the mid-term elections. The Biden administration has been sensitive this year to issues surrounding energy, after gasoline prices surged at one point to the highest on record.

Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refiners are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation's fuel mix, or buy tradeable credits from those that do. The EPA administers the law.

While Congress set out specific goals through 2022, the law expands the EPA's authority to change the way the RFS is administered. Starting next year, the agency will have leeway to set multi-year mandates and make other changes.

The EPA did not immediately reply to a request for comment. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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