Confidential business info must be protected — Senate EPW leaders

Source: Marc Heller, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) yesterday urged EPA and the Department of Energy not to publicly identify companies that receive exemptions from renewable fuel mandates.

Releasing the company names or other specific information could run afoul of the law and throw off markets for the renewable fuel credits that help sustain the federal renewable fuel standard, the senators said in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

“According to EPA’s regulations, failure to protect confidential business information ‘shall constitute grounds for dismissal, suspension, fine, or other adverse personnel action,'” they said.

Their letter follows news reports by Reuters that have identified Andeavor and other companies that have sought exemptions for small refineries, claiming economic hardship.

In their letter, the lawmakers said information identifying companies is confidential, although some publicly traded companies have provided such information in public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Disclosing confidential information about the 13 public companies that own small refineries would increase the risk of insider training and securities fraud, they said.

The RFS requires EPA, in cooperation with DOE, to grant such exemptions when refiners can demonstrate economic hardship. Supporters of the ethanol mandate, including the Renewable Fuels Association, say the exemptions weren’t meant to be used for big refiners that overall are highly profitable. Andeavor reported a $1.5 billion profit last year.

Pruitt, in an interview with farm broadcasters yesterday, said that EPA and DOE are coordinating better on the requests than in past administrations. He confirmed that the agency granted 24 such waivers for 2017.