Despite Trump’s Desire to Approve E15, EPA’s Head Remains Uncommitted

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN/Progressive Farmer • Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2018

OMAHA (DTN) — EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler was a United States Senate staffer at the time the 2005 and 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard laws were passed. Now he’s in charge of implementing the law at a time when confusion reigns on small-refinery waivers.

Wheeler told lawmakers Wednesday he regrets that when he was involved in drafting the RFS law, Congress didn’t work out all of the details on how small-refiner waivers would be handled.

“I wish we had spent a little more time on the details as we implement it,” Wheeler said to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We’re working on transparency.”

He announced the EPA was creating an online dashboard to provide information about refiner waivers granted and the “circumstances” leading to the decision.

The agency announced in the latest RFS volumes proposal that it granted waivers in 2016 and 2017 totaling 2.25 billion gallons of biofuels, which equates to affecting roughly 800 million bushels of corn demand. The National Biodiesel Board estimates the loss of 300 million gallons of biodiesel blended, through waivers.

“We’re looking to see what we can do toward making up the difference,” Wheeler told the committee, although he provided the same answer as former Administrator Scott Pruitt: The agency is unsure it can reallocate gallons lost retroactively.

Wheeler also was asked about the agency’s intentions on year-round E15 sales.

“We certainly have started the process,” he said. “There are people who believe we don’t have the authority. We are looking at that issue.” He noted E15 is part of a “broader package deal” to include concerns from refining interests.

In recent weeks, President Donald Trump said his administration was “close” to approving E15. Pruitt said during a public appearance in recent months that he believed the EPA had the authority.