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US GAO to Investigate EPA RFS Small Refinery Exemptions, "Hardship Waiver" Program (Ind. Report, Reg. & Leg.)
RFS,U.S. Government Accountability Office
Date: 2020-01-15
On Capitol Hill, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has replied in the affirmative to a request from bi-partisan group of U.S House members led by Rep. Abby Finkenauer, (D-Iowa) -- Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship Committee on Small Business House of Representative -- urging the agency to examine the review and approval of small refinery exemptions (SREs), including the DOE's viability of scores for the 40 compliance year 2018 SRE applications that had been reviewed as of that date.

In its Jan. 10 reply, the GAO accepted the request as being within the scope of its authority and assigned Mark E. Gaffigan, managing director of Natural Resources and Environment to begin the investigation shortly.

"Granting more than 80 small refinery exemption waivers isn't just something this administration can sweep under the rug," Finkenauer said in a statement announcing the GAO investigation.

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: Office of US Rep. Abby Finkenaur, 10 Jan., 2020) Contact: Office of US Rep. Abby Finkenaur , https://finkenauer.house.gov/sites/finkenauer.house.gov; U.S. Government Accountability Office, (202) 512-3000, contact@gao.gov, www.gao.gov

More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuel Standard,  "Hardship" Waiver,  


Suncor Challenges EPA RFS Waiver Denial (Ind. Report, Reg & Leg)
Suncor Energy
Date: 2020-01-08
Denver-based Suncor Energy U.S.A. Inc., a unit of Calgary, Alberta-based Suncor Energy, reports it has filed an appeal of the US EPA's October 2019 decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. The agency recently finalized a rule designed to account for biofuel gallons waived from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In its appeal, Suncor, which received waivers for what were previously two refineries in Commerce City, Colorado, argued the agency's action was "arbitrary, capricious, and not otherwise in accordance with law." The EPA reportedly rejected Suncor's petition because the refineries no longer meet EPA's definition of a small refinery, which produces 75,000 bpd or less. Suncor previously received waivers for what were two small refineries, one that produced nearly 33,000 bpd and another at nearly 67,000 in 2018. The refineries were among the original facilities to receive waivers in 2006.

According to the company's website, since 2006, Suncor has been making a significant impact in Canada's emerging biofuels industry. Suncor is using revenues from oil sands development to invest in biofuels, particularly ethanol produced from corn. Ethanol is a cleaner burning, renewable resource. The ethanol production industry is expanding in Canada and the United States. New government regulations require that a percentage of ethanol be blended into fuels to reduce the environmental impacts of vehicle emissions. Suncor operates Canada's largest ethanol facility -- the St. Clair Ethanol Plant in the Sarnia-Lambton region of Ontario. (Source: Suncor Energy, DTN, 6 Jan., 2019) Contact: Suncor Energy USA, 303-793-8000, www.suncor.com

More Low-Carbon Energy News Suncor Energy ,  RFS,  "Hardship Waiver",  


ABA's EPA Biofuel Waivers Lawsuit Dismissed (Reg. & Leg.)
Advanced Biofuels Association
Date: 2019-11-15
Following up on our 26th April coverage, the Washington, D.C., District Court of Appeals has dismissed the Advance Biofuels Association's (ABA) lawsuit challenging the EPA's use of small refinery exemptions on the grounds that the ABA failed to "identify a final agency action."

In its suit, the ABA claimed the EPA was exceeding its authority when it granted a larger number of waivers under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to small oil refineries. The court did, however, note "the EPA's briefing and oral argument paint a troubling picture of intentionally shrouded and hidden agency law that could have left those troubled by the agency's actions without a viable avenue for judicial review."

Since 2016, the EPA has granted a total of 85 waivers accounting for 4.04 billion gallons of biofuels that were not blended into the nation's fuel supply.

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: Various Media, NAFB News Service, 13 Nov., 2019) Contact: Advanced Biofuels Association, www.advancedbiofuelsassociation.com

More Low-Carbon Energy News Advanced Biofuels Association,  EPA RFS,  RFS Waiver ,  


NBB's EPA RFS "Hardship" Waivers Challenge Nixed (Reg & Leg)
NBB,National Biodiesel Board
Date: 2019-09-09
In the nation's capitol, the US Court of Appeals has announced it will not review the Trump administration US EPA's refusal to account for its granting of numerous retroactive Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) "hardship" waivers, as challenged by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

The Court nixed the NBB's appeal on the grounds that the biofuel industry did not comment on the topic or give the EPA sufficient opportunity to address those comments. (Source: NBB, Biofuels News, 9 Sept., 2019)

More Low-Carbon Energy News NBB,  Biodiesel,  RFS,  "hardship" Waivers,  


ABA Asks Court to Quash EPA RFS "Hardship Waivers" (Reg. & Leg.)
Advanced Biofuels Association
Date: 2019-04-26
According to a recent brief filed by attorneys on behalf of the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABA) in a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit court in Washington, the US EPA broke away from Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements for granting small-refinery waivers starting in May 2017 and continued to deny a congressional order regarding which refiners qualify.

The suit contends the EPA approved waivers for small refiners that didn't meet the minimum U.S. DOE score to qualify, and improperly considered the debts of small-refiners' parent companies when considering waiver requests. The brief also noted the agency considered small-refiners' operating losses whether or not they were related to RFS compliance. The agency also considered what small refiners might spend on biofuel credits, without looking at revenue the refiners would later generate from sales of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). Accordingly, the ABA suit asked the court to declare the EPA's methodology for determining disproportionate economic hardship "unlawful" and to strike down the agency's economic "hardship" policy.

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: ABA, DTN, April, 2019) Contact: Advanced Biofuels Association, www.advancedbiofuelsassociation.com

More Low-Carbon Energy News Advanced Biofuels Association,  "hardship Waiver: RFS,  


EPA 2019 Final Renewable Fuel Standards Quota (Summary Report)
EPA,RFS
Date: 2018-12-05
On November 30, 2018, the US EPA finalized volume quotas under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2019 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, total renewable fuel, and biomass-based diesel for 2020.

In brief,the conventional renewable fuel quota, which is met primarily by corn-based ethanol, will be maintained at 19 billion gal in 2019, while required advance biofuel volumes will climb by 630 million gal from 2018 to 19.92 billion gal. The 2019 quota for cellulosic biofuels increased nearly 130 million gal to 418 million gal.

Download the EPA RFS summary HERE. (Source: EPA, Dec., 2018) Contact: US EPA, www.epa.gov

More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Biofuel,  Biomass,  Ethanol,  Biodiesel,  Biofuel Blend,  


Notable Quote -- RFS "Hardship" Waivers Hurting Ethanol Demand
EPA,National Farmers Union
Date: 2018-09-12
"The farmers are the ones at the end of the day who are really not the winners in all of this, and it's very contrary to what the president and this administration has said that they support. They have talked extensively about supporting farmers but the actions from this EPA about the small refinery exemptions have not been supportive."

"We're obviously at a time right now where we're very concerned about our lack of export markets and so it's really important that this administration continues to support farmers, continue to support the renewable fuels industry by the Renewable Fuel Standard." -- Anne Steckel, Biofuels Advisor with the National Farmers Union, speaking on the US EPA RFS "Hardship" waivers for refiners.

According to EPA data, nearly 50 waivers were granted in 2016 and 2017, wiping out 2.2 billion gallons of blending obligations. "Hardship waivers" were intended for refineries that produced 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: Public News Service, 14 Aug., 2018) Contact: National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, Pres., (202) 554-1600, https://nfu.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA "Hardship Waiver" news,  RFA news,  NFU news,  


NCGA Comments of EPA RFS Proposals (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
National Corn Growers Association
Date: 2018-08-20
On Friday, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) submitted the following unsolicited comments to the EPA on the proposed rule for the 2019 volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

In the proposed rule, the EPA granted retroactive "hardship" exemptions to 48 refineries for 2016 and 2017 RFS obligations, amounting to 2.25 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons. Through this proposed rule, EPA has the tools to ensure retroactive exemptions do not further reduce volumes.

"While EPA may not want feedback on how the agency is failing to maintain the integrity of the RFS and administer the volume standards in accordance with the law, corn farmers will provide that feedback nonetheless and make our voices heard. The process for accounting for these volumes is central to the integrity of the RFS, and it is offensive to farmers that EPA does not believe our comments on this issue are worth soliciting and considering.

"To uphold the full clean air, cost-savings, energy independence, and rural economic benefits consumers and farmers receive from the RFS, EPA must also use the 2019 volume rule to make and keep the RFS whole.

"Maintaining an implied volume for conventional renewable fuel at 15 billion gallons, consistent with the statutory target for 2019 and the proposed rule, provides a firm base of support for ethanol production and corn prices. A strong RFS is a market-based solution for sustaining the agriculture economy," the comments state. (Source: NCGA, Wisconsin State Farmer, 17 Aug., 2018) Contact: National Corn Growers Association, Kevin Skunes, Pres., (202) 326-0644, www.ncga.com

More Low-Carbon Energy News National Corn Growers Association,  RFS,  Biofuel,  


Notable Quote -- RFS "Hardship" Waivers Hurting Ethanol Demand
National Farmers Union
Date: 2018-08-17
"The farmers are the ones at the end of the day who are really not the winners in all of this, and it's very contrary to what the president and this administration has said that they support. They have talked extensively about supporting farmers but the actions from this EPA about the small refinery exemptions have not been supportive."

"We're obviously at a time right now where we're very concerned about our lack of export markets and so it's really important that this administration continues to support farmers, continue to support the renewable fuels industry by the Renewable Fuel Standard." -- Anne Steckel, Biofuels Advisor with the National Farmers Union, speaking on the US EPA RFS "Hardship" waivers for refiners.

Farmers nationwide say the EPA is undercutting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and hurting farmers by granting too many "hardship" exemptions for small oil refineries. According to EPA data, nearly 50 waivers were granted in 2016 and 2017, wiping out 2.2 billion gallons of blending obligations.

As previously reported, "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: Public News Service, 14 Aug., 2018) Contact: National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, Pres., (202) 554-1600, https://nfu.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA,  RFS,  RFS Hardship Waiver,  National Farmers Union,  

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