Updated Aug. 12: Biofuels industry comments on EPA decision to grant 31 waivers.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved 31 refinery exemptions Aug. 9 while denying six.
“The Administration tried to bury bad news for rural America by quietly approving 31 more waivers this Friday afternoon that undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard and the market for corn,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. “On Wednesday, I hosted a packed forum at Farmfest with Secretary Perdue where farmers raised this issue again and again. Farmers are on the front lines of the tariff war and this announcement by the EPA will only make things worse.”
Since early 2018, EPA granted 53 Renewable Fuel Standard waivers to oil companies, totaling 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel.
Under EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard program, a small refinery may be granted a temporary exemption from its annual Renewable Volume Obligations if it can demonstrate that compliance with the RVOs would cause the refinery to suffer disproportionate economic hardship. EPA evaluates submissions to determine whether an exemption may be granted, based on information presented by the petitioning refinery and on the statutory and regulatory requirements for exemption.
The National Corn Growers Association called on President Trump to rein in the EPA.
“Waivers reduce demand for ethanol, lower the value of our crop and undermine the president’s support for America’s farmers,” said National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp. “Waivers benefit big oil at the expense of corn farmers who, between losing export markets abroad and ethanol markets at home, are losing patience.
“Mr. President, you proudly stand with farmers, but your EPA isn’t following through. You can step up for farmers today by reining in RFS waivers. Farmers expect the RFS to be kept whole by accounting for waived gallons and bringing more transparency to EPA’s secret process.”
The American Soybean Association president said the waivers will result in reduced biodiesel demand. The waivers announced Friday combined with those issued in 2016 and 2017 brings the total to more than 80 retroactive waivers.
“These exemptions undermine President Trump's pledge to support the RFS and undermine the administration’s efforts to support farmers who are already bearing the brunt of trade disruptions.,” said Davie Stephens, a soybean grower from Clinton, Kentucky, and ASA president. “EPA’s decision is another blow to yet another market for soybean farmers.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor didn’t mince words in her reaction.
“The EPA has proven beyond any doubt that it doesn’t care about following the law, American jobs, or even the president’s promises,” Skor said. “Now farmers and biofuel producers are paying the price. These exemptions are destroying demand for homegrown energy at a time when family farms are struggling, farm income is plummeting and many ethanol plants have been forced to close their doors or idle production. The impact on rural communities cannot be overstated. President Trump must move quickly if there is any hope of repairing the damage. If he won’t hold the EPA accountable, then he’s failing to uphold the commitment he’s made to rural America.”
The Renewable Fuels Association CEO said the announcement came as a total shock.
“At a time when ethanol plants in the Heartland are being mothballed and jobs are being lost, it is unfathomable and utterly reprehensible that the Trump Administration would dole out more unwarranted waivers to prosperous petroleum refiners,” said Geoff Cooper, RFA president and CEO,
Source: EPA, NCGA, ASA, Office of Rep. Collin Peterson, Growth Energy, RFA, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.