Documents, Schedule Suggest Pruitt Changed Biofuel Reallocation Plan After Meeting With Sens. Cruz, Toomey

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018

OMAHA (DTN) — The EPA was set to reallocate gallons lost in the Renewable Fuel Standard to small-refinery waivers, but that proposal was pulled within days after a series of meetings and phone calls that then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had with lawmakers from oil states and RFS stakeholders.

As part of the rulemaking process on the latest proposed RFS volumes, which are slated for a public hearing on July 18, the agency on Wednesday posted a number of documents to regulations.gov showing the interagency process that took place prior to the proposal’s release. That interagency review includes USDA, EPA and the Office of Management and Budget.

In addition, after Pruitt resigned earlier this week, the EPA posted an updated Pruitt calendar (https://www.epa.gov/…) that includes his schedule in the days ahead of the release of the proposed volumes on June 26.

EPA estimates it waived about 2.25 billion gallons of biofuels for 2016 and 2017. The ethanol and agriculture industries have pressed the agency to reallocate those lost gallons to other refiners. In the weeks leading up to the release of the RFS volumes proposal, Pruitt told two different groups of agriculture and ethanol organizations two different stories when asked about the agency’s ability to reallocate RFS gallons.

During a visit to East Kansas Agri-Energy’s ethanol plant in Garnett, Kansas, on June 12, Pruitt said the agency could reallocate gallons. The next day in South Dakota, Pruitt told an ag group, “Counsel worries reallocating lost RINs (renewable identification numbers) retroactively isn’t legal.”

REALLOCATION PROPOSED

According to a June 19 interagency review document, the EPA proposed raising the total overall percentage of renewable fuels in the gasoline pool from 10.88% to 11.76% — just days after Pruitt’s visits to Midwest states that also included a stop in Nebraska. That bump in renewable fuel percentages was expected to make up at least some gallons lost to waivers. The proposed bump in percentages came one day after a morning meeting Pruitt had with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in Washington, D.C.

In a June 20 interagency review document, EPA personnel appeared to indicate it was legal to reallocate gallons to larger refiners.

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