US Congress needs to reform renewable fuel mandate: EPA chief

Source: By Brian Scheid, Platts • Posted: Friday, May 26, 2017

Washington (Platts)–24 May 2017 600 pm EDT/2200 GMT
The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday the Renewable Fuel Standard needs to be reformed, but said any changes need to be made by Congress not within the agency.

“There are deficiencies in how the statute is currently framed and Congress needs to respond,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said at a symposium hosted by Faegre Baker Daniels, a law firm.

Pruitt, who has previously called the RFS “unworkable” and a “flawed” program, seemed to distance himself Wednesday from any role in reform.

Pruitt stressed that the agency he heads was committed to publishing 2018 volume obligations in November and said that delays in doing so by the previous administration increased market uncertainty.

“Unfortunately, the agency has not been consistent with getting those published,” Pruitt said.

He also gave no indication that the agency was close to making any decision on moving the RFS point of obligation from refiners and importers to blenders at the wholesale rack. He said EPA officials were still reviewing roughly 18,000 comments on the proposal. He said there was “no timeline” on a decision.

Pruitt called the EPA’s use of waiver authority for the RFS “troublesome,” but said any judgment on that use would be left to the courts.

Pruitt’s comments Wednesday largely focused on criticism of the Obama administration’s environmental policies, which he said skirted Congress and regulated through litigation.

He also called the international Paris climate accord a “bad business deal at its core,” and said that energy production should not be sacrificed for environmental protections.

“We’re going to have our cake and eat it too,” Pruitt said.