RFA Will Fight EPA’s Illegal, Last-Minute Refinery Exemptions

Source: By Ken Colombini, RFA • Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Renewable Fuels Association today harshly condemned the Environmental Protection Agency’s unconscionable and unlawful decision to grant three more small refinery exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard with just hours remaining before Donald Trump leaves the White House and Joe Biden is sworn in as President. Last week, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper notified Wheeler of RFA’s intent to legally challenge any waivers issued in the final days of the Trump presidency.

 EPA granted two 2019 exemptions, erasing another 150 million gallons of renewable fuel demand. Unbelievably, the Agency also appears to have reversed a 2018 petition that was initially denied, resulting in an additional loss of 110 million gallons of renewable volume blending.

“This midnight-hour attempt by the Trump administration to damage the Renewable Fuel Standard and sabotage the ethanol industry’s recovery from the COVID pandemic simply cannot be allowed to prevail,” Cooper said. “With just hours remaining in his shameful term as EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler couldn’t stop himself from doling out a few more Clean Air Act compliance exemptions to his well-connected friends. But the fact remains that today’s action by EPA is completely without legal merit. It flouts both the statute and recent court decisions that clearly limit EPA’s authority and ability to grant these exemptions. And while this action comes as one last sucker punch from the Trump administration, we are confident it will be a hollow victory for the politically connected oil companies receiving today’s waivers, as the new Biden Administration will most certainly act quickly to restore the volumes erased by these waivers.”

The waivers come less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision in RFA et al. v. EPA, which found EPA had grossly exceeded its statutory authority in granting three exemptions. Previously, Wheeler had claimed EPA would not decide any pending waiver petitions until any and all appeals of the Tenth Circuit decision were resolved.

“In the past, Administrator Wheeler has asserted that the ‘appeals process needs to play out’ before EPA will decide the SRE petitions,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, hypocrisy has been the hallmark of the Trump administration’s EPA, which right to the end has demonstrated its fealty to the nation’s largest polluters, while showing nothing but disdain for America’s hard-working farmers and producers of homegrown renewable fuels. Today’s action by Wheeler and his political enablers will not be forgotten by the women and men across the Heartland whose livelihoods depend on a strong renewable fuels industry and stability and certainty in the RFS policy.”