Documents reveal EPA actions on RFS waivers

Source: By Peter Tubbs, Iowa Public Television • Posted: Monday, October 28, 2019

The Renewable Fuels Association released redacted documents from their 2018 lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s issuing of waivers of the requirement of gasoline refiners to buy and blend ethanol into their fuel mixtures.

The documents confirm some of what the renewable fuel industry has recently charged. The EPA failed to determine if refiners were in economic distress before extending waivers of the blending requirement. In a 2017 meeting, the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt approved waivers over the objections of career EPA staff.

In the last decade, the EPA has granted 94 waivers, with 85 being issued in in the last 30 months. The waivers have reduced renewable fuel demand by 1.6 billion gallons.
Monte Shaw, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association: “The EPA is currently under a court order to give us back the 500 million gallons of conventional biofuels they illegally waived from the program back in 2016, and they didn’t fix it in 2017, or 2018, and then in 2019 the d not only didn’t fix it, they said they weren’t going to. This isn’t how government is supposed to work. When there is a law, you break it and the Court says you break it, you fix it, you’re supposed to fix it. You are not supposed to have an executive agency thumb their nose at Congress, and thumb their nose at the Courts.”

The renewable fuels industry has asked for the new rules to make up for volumes lost by the issuing of waivers, and for consistency in the rules moving forward.
Monte Shaw, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association: “If they do that, we’ll give it the same applause that we did when they rolled it out on October 4th. If they don’t, then it goes from EPA rule to d Trump policy.”

The President made remarks about the RFS twice this week. During a Monday cabinet meeting he suggested that the new rule was ready.
President Donald Trump: “Thank you very much, and I know you’re working on these small refineries, getting that straightened away so that it’s going to be terrific for this oil refineries. They’ve been hurting for a long time and we gave them waivers for this year and that will, that’s helped them a lot. But I want you to work on that. Make sure this small refineries are happy and for the farmers, ethanol now has been fully approved. We spoke with Joni Ernst, we spoke with the, and very importantly, and we spoke with Chuck Grassley and uh, the ethanol, the whole situation with ethanol that has been going on for so long for so many years. We have that now, where it’s finished, approved, done, and we’re getting things ready to sign.”

On Wednesday, The President spoke of the work that current EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler was doing on the RFS rules.
President Donald Trump: “…and he’s right now working on small refineries, getting them everything they need to stay because it’s a highly competitive business. We want to keep them really prosperous and keep them in business. Andrew, so I know you’re working on that and he’s dealing with them, I think this week and next week you’ll hopefully have something for the small refineries.”

The EPA will hold a hearing in Michigan on October 30th to take comments on the proposed rules.
For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs.