Iowa Sen. Grassley Suggests EPA not Following Administrative Procedures Act

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2018

Though the EPA proposed an increase in biofuels volumes, there continues to be concern about how the agency issues waivers. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

Though the EPA proposed an increase in biofuels volumes, there continues to be concern about how the agency issues waivers. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

OMAHA (DTN) — The amount of biofuels gallons lost to small refinery waivers was worse than many had estimated.

The EPA granted waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2016 and 2017, totaling 2.25 billion gallons of biofuels, according to the agency’s latest renewable volume obligations proposal released on Tuesday.

In a recent analysis, the Renewable Fuels Association estimated the total to be around 1.6 billion gallons.

EPA outlined details of the bank for renewable identification numbers, or RINs, in the proposed volumes.

“They include the approximately 1,460 million RINs that were not required to be retired by small refineries that were granted hardship exemptions for 2017 and approximately 790 million RINs that were not required to be retired by small refineries that were granted hardship exemptions for 2016, along with the RINs that Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing, LLC was not required to retire as part of its bankruptcy settlement agreement,” the agency said in the proposal.

“While EPA cannot predict how obligated parties will comply in 2018 or the amount of additional small refinery hardship exemptions that may be granted in the future, the 2016 and 2017 exemptions have directly increased the number of carryover RINs that will likely be available for compliance with the 2019 standards. This total volume of carryover RINs is approximately 15% of the total renewable fuel volume requirement that EPA is proposing for 2019, which is less than the 20% maximum limit permitted by the regulations to be carried over for use in complying with the 2019 standards.”

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was livid at the news but fell short in calling for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to resign.

“That’s a gut punch to Midwest farmers, to President Trump and to the rule of law,” Grassley said in a statement. “So far, Administrator Pruitt has failed. But he can make it right by reallocating waived obligations in the final rule. Otherwise, Administrator Pruitt should let someone else do the job who won’t continue to undermine the president. This would be a common sense step to repairing the damage already done and rebuilding trust between Administrator Pruitt and Midwest farmers.”

In addition, Grassley raised the notion the EPA may be breaking the law in how it handles waiver requests.

“As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I also have concerns that EPA may be ignoring or abusing the Administrative Procedure Act as they continue to grant waivers in secret and refuse to respond to congressional oversight and public information requests regarding the practice,” Grassley said. “The public’s business ought to be public, and hiding behind bureaucracy and poor excuses isn’t going to work.”

Grassley continued, “I’d like to work with Administrator Pruitt to help him rebuild trust with Congress and with farmers, but it’s going to take concrete steps in the near future, otherwise there’s no reason to believe much from EPA.”

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