EPA grants last-minute small refinery waivers
On the last full day of the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday granted three small refinery exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The waivers were posted on the EPA website.
The Renewable Fuels Association explained, “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,” RFA President and CEO Geoff 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 10th 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 10th Circuit decision were resolved, Cooper noted.
“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.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor called on the incoming Biden administration “to reverse harm done to rural America through SRE abuse.”
“Farm families and biofuel workers across the country have worked tirelessly to make a living over the past few months despite a global pandemic,” Skor said. “And yet, the Trump Administration’s SRE abuse has piled on to the uncertainty and difficulty that rural Americans are facing every day. Given President-elect Biden’s commitments on the campaign trail, we’re confident his incoming team will swiftly work to reverse the damage these oil handouts have done to rural America by this midnight maneuvering.”
“EPA’s action today brings the total of SREs granted by the Trump administration to 88, totaling 4.3 billion gallons of biofuel blending demand destroyed,” Skor added.
National Biodiesel Board Vice President for Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik said, “EPA’s last-minute gifts to oil refiners come at the direct expense of biodiesel and renewable diesel producers. This disappointing action further undermines the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard program by destroying demand for additional gallons of biofuel.”
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said, “In its handling of biofuels policy, President Trump’s EPA has been nothing if not consistent. Since day one, it has indulged the oil industry’s every whim without consideration for the ramifications for family farmers, rural communities, or the environment. We certainly weren’t holding our breath for them to change their biased, sycophantic ways. But while EPA’s decision to yet again bend to oil corporations’ will comes as a surprise to no one, it is still deeply troubling – especially considering the fact that it coincides with the Supreme Court’s consideration of small refinery exemptions.
“After tomorrow, we hope this drama and hypocrisy will be behind us. Instead, we urge Biden’s EPA to show strong and unwavering commitment to expand the use of homegrown biofuels. For starters, the agency should offset the damage caused by these superfluous waivers by proposing robust renewable volume obligations for 2021.”
–The Hagstrom Report
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