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Ethanol Ind. Leaders Comment on EPA's Last Minute RFA "Hardship" Waivers (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
RFS Waivers
Date: 2021-02-01
On Jan 19, the Trump administration's Andrew Wheeler-led EPA approved three small refinery "hardship" waivers to reverse one denial from 2018 and granting two for the 2019 compliance year. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) was quick to respond with a petition for review and an emergency motion to stay EPA's action.

"Based on empirical evidence from SREs improperly granted in other compliance years, the new 2018-2019 SREs will likely have a sudden, negative impact on both ethanol sales volumes and prices. This would be devastating to America's ethanol producers, many of which are already on the brink of closure due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This action by EPA is completely without legal merit," RFA Pres. and CEO Geoff Cooper Noted:

"This midnight-hour attempt by the Trump administration to damage the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and sabotage the ethanol industry's recovery from the COVID pandemic simply cannot be allowed to prevail. With just hours remaining in his shameful term as EPA administrator, 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 this 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," RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper said.

"Farm families and biofuel workers across the country have worked tirelessly to make a living over the past few months despite a global pandemic. And yet, the Trump administration's SRE abuse has piled on to the uncertainty and difficulty that rural Americans are facing every day," according to Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. (Source: RFA, Growth Energy, AgriNews, 30January, 2021) Contact: Growth Energy, Emily Skor, (202) 545-4000, www.growthenergy.org; RFA, Geoff Cooper, Pres., CEO, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News Ethanol,  Biofuel,  Biofuel Blend,  RFA,  Growth Energy,  RFS,  "Hardship" Waivers,  ,  


More Refiners Seeking RFS Biofuel Hardship Waivers (Ind. Report)
EPA, RFS
Date: 2020-11-20
In Washington, the EPA is reporting over the past 30 days, US refiners added five requests for "hardship waiver" exemptions of 2020 renewable fuel blending requirements and one to exempt 2019 requirements . There are nine pending applications to waive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements for 2020 and 32 pending applications to waive 2019 requirements.

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler stated that the agency would not act on waiver requests for compliance years since 2019 until ongoing court challenges to prior decisions are settled.

As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. Under the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied.

On Sept 18 we reported Trump had suggested he'd provide $300 million to oil refiners and that those funds would come out of the USDA Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) which is intended to provide farmers with Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments. Trump later denied suggesting cash payments to refineries whose waiver applications had been rejected. (Source: EPA, Various Media, 19 Nov., 2020)

More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  ,  Hardship Waiver,  Biofuel Blending,  


EPA Admin. Wheeler Comments on RFS Waivers -- Notable Quotes
RFS Waivers
Date: 2020-08-26
"I have talked personally with a number of small refiners all over the country -- (the agency is) working with them to see what we can do to help them during this time.

"We have extraordinary circumstances this year and we are looking at what relief we can provide everyone -- the ethanol industry is hurting as well." -- U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, 20 May, 2020

More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS Waivers news,  Andrew Wheeler news,  


Yet Another Letter to the President -- S.D. Congressman Calls for RFS Waivers Action (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
RFs
Date: 2020-07-15
In a recent letter to the EPA. South Dakota congressman Dusty Johnson (R) wrote: "President Trump has stood up for South Dakota's farmers, but the EPA is letting them down. For years, the EPA undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by granting waivers to big oil, essentially cutting billions of gallons of biofuels demand and cutting off a vital market to corn farmers.

"My House colleagues and I have written President Trump twice recently, asking him to protect the RFS. This message is clear -- the EPA must follow the law and stop reducing the amount of renewable fuel in our fuel supply. Our farmers need this market. South Dakota's biofuels industry can produce more than 1 billion gallons annually, adding more than $980 million to the economy -- but this only happens if there is reliable market access. The EPA can get this done.

"The nation's eyes were on South Dakota during President Trump's visit to Mount Rushmore. I'll continue to deliver agriculture's request that the EPA support clear, homegrown biofuels. The president supports farmers -- and it's time the EPA does, too." -- South Dakota congressman Dusty Johnson (R).

Editor's Note: As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. Under the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied. (Source: Rep. Dusty Johnson , Mitchell Republic, 12 July, 2020) Contact: Rep. Dusty Johnson , (202) 225-2801, www.dustyjohnson.house.gov

More Low-Carbon Energy News US EPA,  Andrew Wheeler,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  RFS Waiver,  


NWF Supports Governors' Requests for RFS Relief (Ind. Report)
AFPM
Date: 2020-07-08
According to a recent American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) blog posting, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has become the most recent US EPA petitioner seeking a general waiver to reduce 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance obligations.

In a letter to the EPA' Administrator Andrew Wheeler, NWF President and CEO Collin O'Mara echoed the requests of six state governors and stressed the need for smaller biofuel mandates. In its letter, the AFPM noted:

  • "The RFS currently requires about 19 billion gal. of fuel derived from plants to be blended into gasoline. The overwhelming majority of that fuel is corn ethanol, and today 40 pct of the corn produced in the U.S. goes into our gas tanks."

  • "Increasing mandated blending levels increases the potential for further land conversion, presenting a marked threat to the battle against global climate change, with its consequent catastrophic effects on human health and the environment. Higher blends of ethanol necessitated by unrealistic RVOs diminish public health."

  • "In light of the clear and present danger to the environment, we join with the governors of six states in asking for a waiver to the RVO."

    The NWF letter concludes: “"In short, the corn ethanol mandate has led to the loss of important wildlife habitat, particularly in regions critical for monarch butterflies, ducks and other ground-nesting birds, and many other species -- threatening outdoor recreation opportunities as well as the economy. The mandate has also resulted in deteriorated water quality and harmful algal blooms in important surface waters as a result of increased farm runoff. Increasing mandated blending levels increases the potential for further land conversion, presenting a marked threat to the battle against global climate change, with its consequent catastrophic effects on human health and the environment. Higher blends of ethanol necessitated by unrealistic RVOs diminish public health. In light of the clear and present danger to the environment, we join with the Governors of six states in asking for a waiver to the RVO." (Source: National Wildlife Federation, AFPM, Hydrocarbon Engineering, 7 July, 2020) Contact: National Wildlife Federation, Colin O'Mara, CEO, www.nwf.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  Ethanol,  


  • EPA Admin. Wheeler Comments on RFS Waivers -- Notable Quotes
    RFS Waiver
    Date: 2020-06-19
    "I have talked personally with a number of small refiners all over the country -- (the agency is) working with them to see what we can do to help them during this time.

    "We have extraordinary circumstances this year and we are looking at what relief we can provide everyone -- the ethanol industry is hurting as well." -- U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, 20 May, 2020

    More Low-Carbon Energy News FRS Waiver,  Andrew Wheeler,  


    Biodiesel Board Urges EPA to Reject RFS "Gap" Waivers (Ind. Report)
    National Biodiesel Board
    Date: 2020-06-19
    The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is urging EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to immediately reject the flood of 52 small refinery exemption petitions for previous years going back to 2011.

    "EPA's consideration of small refinery exemption petitions going back to 2011 flies in the face of the recent 10th Circuit decision. By rolling back the clock, there appears to be no length EPA won't go to help refiners undermine the RFS. Make no mistake -- this handout to the oil industry comes at the expense of biodiesel producers and soybean farmers across the country, and particularly the Midwest. Allowing these gap filings renders the program completely unpredictable for renewable fuel producers. The agency must immediately reject these petitions to restore confidence that it will abide by the law in administering the RFS." NBB VP for Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik said.

    NBB sent a June 1 letter to Administrator Wheeler saying, "EPA's first step upon receiving any petition for a small refinery exemption should be to evaluate its timeliness and validity before transmitting it to the Department of Energy." The letter makes the case that "gap" petitions or re-submissions of previously rejected petitions are inconsistent with the 10th Circuit's ruling. (Source: National Biodiesel Board, PR, NBB Website, 18 June, 2020) Contact: NBB, Kurt Kovarik, VP of Federal Affairs, (800) 841-5849, www.nbd.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News National Biodiesel Board,  RFS,  RFS Waiver,  EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler ,  


    Biofuel Leaders Question Retroactive RFS Exemptions (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2020-06-10
    In a 9 June letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Renewable Fuels Assoc. wrote:

    "We are writing to request further information about petitions reportedly received by the U.S. EPA from small refiners seeking exemption from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for past compliance years.

    "The petitions in question were discussed during your testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on May 20, 2020. On the same day, U.S. DOE Under Secretary Mark Menezes confirmed that EPA is 'send[ing] over' past-year petitions for DOE review. Mr. Menezes described the petitions as 'gap filings' intended to reconstitute after-the-fact a continuous string of exemptions for select oil companies 'to be consistent with the Tenth Circuit decision.'

    "This attempt to circumvent the courts and the RFS should be rejected out of hand. Even if EPA granted retroactive 'gap' exemptions without simultaneously returning the number of RINs associated with the exemption to the petitioner, such exemptions would be inconsistent with EPA's own policies and regulations, legal precedent, and Congressional intent.

    "These 'gap filings' appear to be little more than the latest in a string of oil industry tactics designed to subvert the law and sidestep a court order to uphold the RFS. Read the full letter HERE. (Source: Renewable Fuels Assoc., 9 June, 2020) Contact: RFA, www.fuelsamerica.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Association,  RFS Waiver,  RFS,  RFA,  Ethanol,  Ethanol Blend,  


    EPA Considering RFS Blending Compliance Delay (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2020-04-03
    Reuters is reporting US EPA chief Andrew Wheeler is considering delaying the deadline for oil refineries to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel blending regulation past March 31 to help the industry cope with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Since the pandemic's onset, the oil industry has asked for broad regulatory relief to help it survive sharply reduced global demand for fuel and to lower related costs. (Source: US EPA, Reuters, 27 Mar., 2020) Contact: US EPA, Andrew Wheeler, Administrator, www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epas-acting-administrator

    More Low-Carbon Energy News US EPA,  Andrew Wheeler,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  


    Wheeler Disappoints Corn Growers, RFS Advocates (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Volume Obligations
    Date: 2019-12-30
    The High Plains Journal is reporting corn growers and renewable fuel standard (RFS) advocates were more then a little disappointed by the recent EPA Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) rule as signed on Dec. 19 by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

    "I'm disappointed the EPA chose to ignore the concerns voiced by renewable fuels producers, farmers and consumers. The flawed formula used to account for waived gallons creates unnecessary uncertainty in our markets, detrimental to so many across rural America. We must continue to work together to hold the EPA accountable for ensuring the 15 billion gallons mandated by the RFS are met. We must also continue to invest in infrastructure that builds demand and increases the availability of higher blends of biodiesel and ethanol across the state of Iowa."-- Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

    The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship administers the Iowa Renewable Fuel Infrastructure program, which offers cost-share grants to help fuel retailers install infrastructure to increase the availability of ethanol and biodiesel. To date, the program has distributed or obligated over $33 million with $200 million added in private economic activity. (Source: Iowa Department of Agriculture, High Plains Journal, 29 Dec. 2019) Contact: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Mike Naig, Sec., 515-281-5321, www.iowaagriculture.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News ANdrew Wheeler,  Renewable Volume Obligations,  RVO,   RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  Ethanol.Ethanol Blend,  EIA,  


    Trump administration reaches regulatory deal on Renewable Fuel Standard
    EPA,RFS
    Date: 2019-10-09
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that President Donald Trump is promoting a new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Under the agreement, the following actions will be undertaken by EPA and USDA. In a forthcoming supplemental notice building off the recently proposed 2020 Renewable Volume Standards and the Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2021, EPA will propose and request public comment on expanding biofuel requirements beginning in 2020. EPA will seek comment on actions to ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning in 2020, and that the volume obligation for biomass-based diesel is met. This will include accounting for relief expected to be provided for small refineries; the EPA intends to take final action on this front later this year. In the most recent compliance year, EPA granted 31 small refinery exemptions. Building on the president’s earlier decision to allow year-round sales of E15, EPA will initiate a rule making process to streamline labeling and remove other barriers to the sale of E15; EPA will continue to evaluate options for RIN market transparency and reform; and USDA will seek opportunities through the budget process to consider infrastructure projects to facilitate higher biofuel blends. (Source: Talk Business & Politics , 7 Oct., 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump. RFS news,  Renewable Fuel Standard news,  "Hardship" Waiver news,  


    Senators Call for RFS "Hardship Waiver" Halt (Reg. & Leg.)
    RFS,"Hardship Wsivers"
    Date: 2019-06-12
    Last week in Washington, a dozen Democrattic US Senators wrote to the Trump Administration appointed EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler advising that the small refiner "hardship waiver" provision was NOT intended to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Accordingly, the Senators added,

    "We request that you cease issuing any further small refinery exemptions, immediately reallocate the remaining gallons, and make public the information regarding any recipients of these exemptions

    "We are extremely concerned about the EPA's recent actions to continue to improperly grant small refinery hardship waivers under the RFS. EPA's continued manipulation and misuse of the small refiner waiver authority is undermining the integrity of the RFS and disadvantaging farmers. Rather than follow congressional intent in the RFS and follow through on the promises made to rural America, the EPA and the (Trump) Administration are providing waivers, in secret, to help some of the largest oil companies and refiners evade their compliance obligations under the Clean Air Act.

    The letter's signatories included Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

    As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. In 2017, the number of small refineries filing for exemptions retroactively for 2016 jumped from 14 the previous year to 20. The rate in which EPA granted these petitions also increased dramatically from 53 pct to 95 pct. (Source: Farm Journal, Various Media, AgPro, 11 June, 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel Blend,  RFS,  "Hardship Waivers" ,  Andrew Wheeler,  

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