Ethanol Bob vs. Refinery Pruitt

Source: By John Siciliano and Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Friday, June 22, 2018

HOUSE JOINS WITH ETHANOL INDUSTRY IN PRESSURING PRUITT: A dozen House members upped the pressure on Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt Wednesday afternoon with a strongly worded letter accusing him of harming the nation’s farmers by undermining the nation’s ethanol program.

What has he done? “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to hurt farmers and undermine the biofuels market by extending waivers to an unusually large number of refineries,” the letter stated, led by the Iowa delegation’s Democrats. “Additionally, your implementation of the [Renewable Fuel Standard] program is undercutting the market for renewable fuels, and inflicting further economic pain in rural communities and throughout the agriculture sector.”

Refinery waivers: Pruitt has been granting waivers to oil refiners to help them reduce costs by not having to blend corn ethanol in the gasoline they produce. That has reduced demand by more than one billion gallons.

ETHANOL BOB VS. REFINERY PRUITT: Bob Dinneen, the ethanol industry’s top lobbyist and head of the Renewable Fuels Association, welcomed the letter, saying it will help the industry in court.

“We appreciate the effort of these members to bring attention to EPA’s woeful disregard of the statute and its indiscriminate granting of hardship waivers,” Dinneen said.

Complete silence: He also noted EPA’s “lack of transparency” in granting relief to oil refineries under the small refinery hardship waiver process. That prompted Dinneen’s group to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the details. But that has been met by “complete silence.”

Court action: “We have also filed suit in the 10th circuit [court] challenging specific waivers and in the D.C. Circuit contesting EPA’s failure to reallocate gallons,” Dinneen noted. Reallocating refers to the lost ethanol demand after Pruitt granted the waivers to refiners.

Help with suits: “The leadership shown by these 12 members should elicit a more timely and satisfactory resolution,” Dinneen said.

Rumor mill: A rumor is floating around Washington that the EPA is going to require other refiners to blend the lost ethanol. But refinery supporters are pushing back, saying the EPA made clear recently that it would not likely take such action.

It would be ‘illegal’: “Just a few days ago, EPA made a clear statement: dealing with reallocation of small refiner exemptions on a retroactive basis is illegal. Period,” said Scott Segal, partner at Bracewell Law, representing the industry.