By Sarah Gonzalez, Director of Communications and Digital Media
Biofuel and farm groups sent a letter to President Trump asking him to adjust the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “flawed” small refinery exemption plan. In its Nov. 4 letter, the coalition of about 60 groups said EPA’s latest proposal “fails in its mission to reinvigorate farm economies and reopen biofuel plants across America’s heartland.”
After a controversial decision issued in August to exempt some small petroleum refineries from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the Trump administration announced Oct. 4 that it would propose expansions to biofuel blending requirements beginning in 2020. EPA said it would propose actions that would ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol are blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning in 2020, and that the volume obligation for biomass-based diesel is met.
But in its Oct. 15 supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, EPA said its plan would not change proposed volumes for 2020 and 2021, but would adjust the way that annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. But several lawmakers and biofuel stakeholders said the plan bases the biofuels volumes required for blending on federal estimates instead of actual exemptions and waivers granted by EPA.
“This one EPA modification converts a commitment to fully account for SREs into a bureaucratically uncertain path that recovers only one fraction of those gallons lost to SREs and could result in RFS backsliding in 2020,” the coalition wrote.
“We are asking for SRE accountability based on a rolling average of the actual volumes exempted by the EPA during the three most recently completed compliance years,” the letter noted. “This simple fix will provide the market with regulatory certainty necessary to bring back rural jobs and restore demand. The proposal – as written – will not provide the relief we believe you are seeking.”