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Biofuels Coalition Challenges EPA's "Hardship Waivers" (Ind Report)
Growth Energy, U.S. Grains Council,Renewable Fuels Association
Date: 2019-10-25
Previously this week in Washington, a coalition of the American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and Renewable Fuels Association filed a petition with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the process by which the U.S. EPA issue economic "hardship waivers" to over 30 small refineries from their respective Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel blending obligations for 2018.

The coalition's brief noted, "Even as the Trump Administration indicates it is taking steps to account for future small refinery exemptions, the coalition remains concerned that EPA's abuse of the small refinery exemption program diverges from the spirit and letter of the Clean Air Act. From a substantive and procedural perspective, this is not the way for a federal agency to make such a momentous decision." (Source: Growth Energy, U.S. Grains Council, and Renewable Fuels Association , 23 Oct., 2019) Contact: Growth Energy, Emily Skor, CEO, Elizabeth Funderburk, (202) 545-4000, EFunderburk@GrowthEnergy.org, www.growthenergy.org; U.S. Grains Council, Tom Sleight, Pres., (202) 789-0789, (202) 898-0522, www.grains.org; Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Growth Energy,  U.S. Grains Council,  Renewable Fuels Association,  


EIA Data Questions RFS "Hardship" Waivers Effect on Ethanol Demand (Ind. Report)
EIA
Date: 2019-10-04
As previously reported, ethanol industry proponents have petitioned the EPA to cease issuing Small Refinery "Hardship" Exemptions (SREs) allowable under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ethanol industry is trying to convince the EPA that the waivers are hurting their business and, therefore, the agency should stop issuing them.

Month-over-month, official government data tells a very different story. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the ethanol blend rate has remained within normal statistical variation, despite the flood of "hardship" waivers. EIA data shows:

  • The overall physical ethanol consumption for Q1 2019 (the most recent, complete data available) is higher than it was in 2018.

  • The average ethanol blend rate was higher in Q1 2019 (10.21 pct) than in Q1 2018 (10.09 pct).

  • In February 2019, the ethanol blend rate was 10.53 percent -- the highest in the 12 months preceding. And the March 2019 ethanol blend rate was 10.18 percent -- higher than the March 2018 blend rate of 9.75 percent.

    These blend rates have been stable for the past few years, underscoring the truth that ethanol demand is premised partially on the RFS, partially on demand for clean octane and partially on other factors -- not SREs.

    Similarly, when it comes to mid-level ethanol blends like E15, there is no data indicating that SREs are reducing demand. E15 and other mid-level ethanol blend sales have been growing all year and, in the case of E15, sales are higher at this point than they were last year, according to the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association.

    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: American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), EIA, Business & Industry Connection, 3 Oct., 2019) Contact: AFPM, Derrick Morgan, Snr, VP, (202) 586-8800, www.afpm.org; EIA, www.eia.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  Ethanol.Ethanol Blend,  EIA,  


  • EPA Halts RFS "Hardship" Waiver Changes (Ind. Report)
    RFS,"Hardship Waivers"
    Date: 2019-10-02
    It is being widely reported by Fox News and others that the EPA has stalled on updates to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuels policy regarding biofuel blending "hardship" waivers (exemptions) that have been issued at near wholesale levels.

    The EPA appears to be acting on instructions from Trump who is no doubt preoccupied with his own whistleblower and impeachment worries.

    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: Fox News, Various Other Media, 2 Oct., 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump,  RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  Biofuel Blend,  


    More from "The Donald" -- Notable Quote
    RFS
    Date: 2019-09-23
    "More difficult than dealing with the Taliban." -- Pres. Donald Trump commenting on negotiations with ethanol producers and refineries on the RFS blending mandate "hardship waiver" negotiations

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump news,  RFS news,  RFS "hardship waivers" news,  


    Trump Plan Would Boost Biofuel Quotas 10 pct in 2020 (Reg & Leg)
    Teump
    Date: 2019-09-16
    Reuters is reporting U.S. Pres. Trump has tentatively approved a plan to increase the amount of biofuels that oil refiners are required to blend each year to compensate for the large number of financial "hardship" exemptions granted to "small" -- 75,000 bpd or less -- refiners by the EPA.

    Under the plan, the EPA will calculate a three-year rolling average of total biofuels gallons exempted under its Small Refinery Exemption program and add that figure to its annual biofuel blending quotas each year -- about 1.35 billion gallons in 2020. That would come in addition to a tentative agreement to boost 2020 blending volumes by 1 billion gallons, including 500 million gallons for conventional biofuels like corn-based ethanol and 500 million gallons for advanced biofuels like biodiesel, according to the Reuters report.

    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: Reuters, Various Media, 16 Sept., 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  Ethanol Blend,  


    RFS "Hardship Waiver" Update from "The Donald" (Notable Quote)
    RFS, Trump
    Date: 2019-09-11
    "The Farmers are going to be so happy when they see what we are doing for Ethanol, not even including the E-15, year around, which is already done. It will be a giant package, get ready! At the same time I was able to save the small refineries from certain closing. Great for all!" -- Pres. Donald Trump's Twitter update of ongoing RFS Policy Change Negotiations.

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


    House Reps Call for RFS "Hardship" Waiver Investigation (Ind Report)
    Biofuel,Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2019-08-28
    In the nation's capitol, a dozen members of Congress, spurred on by Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) have writtn to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro urging the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the review and approval of small refinery "hardship" waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) , including the DOE's viability scores for the 40 waivers reviewed to date by the DOE for the 2018 compliance year.

    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.

    Download the letter HERE. (Source: Office of Rep. Abby Finkenauer, 21 Aug., 2019) Contact: Office of Rep. Abby Finkenauer, (202) 225-2911, finkenauer.house.gov

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


    Notable Quotes -- Iowa Republicans Comment on "Hardship" Waivers
    EPA
    Date: 2019-08-19
    "It is unconscionable for Administrator (Andrew) Wheeler's EPA to continue to gut the RFS through small refinery exemptions while padding the pockets of oil refiners." -- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R)

    "This is a small step in the right direction, but I'm very skeptical that every company receiving waivers truly needs them." -- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

    "I'm committed to holding EPA accountable and ensuring they not only uphold the intent of the RFS but that they're more transparent and forthcoming in this exemption process." -- Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)

    As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and those that 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, Fort Dodge Messenger, 18 Aug., 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  "Hardship" Waivers",  Ethanol,  


    NEB Comments on Latest EPA "Hardship Waivers" -- Notable Quote
    RPA, Nebraska Ethanol Board
    Date: 2019-08-14
    "Over the past two years, the EPA has granted hardship waivers to refineries owned by companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Their continued handouts to the oil industry comes during a time when heartland farmers are really struggling due to depressed commodity prices, flooding and trade wars. Securing access and demand for homegrown, cleaner-burning biofuels should be top priority from an economic and environmental standpoint, not destroying the marketplace program the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was created for." -- Roger Berry, Administrator, Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB).

    Berry was speaking in Lincoln, Nebraska on the EPA's granting of an additional 31 small refinery biofuel waivers for 2018. This follows the 54 waivers the Trump Administration granted in 2016 and 2017, which caused 2.6 billion gallons of demand destruction. These new waivers add another loss of 1.4 billion gallons, for a total loss of 4 billion gallons. Contact: Nebraska Ethanol Board, Roger Berry, (402) 471-2941, ethanol.nebraska.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Nebraska Ethanol Board news,  Ethanol news,  EPA news,  "Hardship Waiver" news,  


    NBB Condemns EPA's Latest RFS "Hardship Waivers" (Ind Report)
    National Biodiesel Board
    Date: 2019-08-12
    "Less than two months after vowing to always protect and defend American farmers, President Trump is bowing to oil industry pressure and allowing his EPA to dismantle the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, force U.S. biodiesel producers out of business, and undermine the farm economy. EPA and administration personnel are well aware that the ongoing spree of big oil exemptions destroy demand for biodiesel and render the RFS program meaningless.

    "Biodiesel producers are already shutting down facilities and laying off workers, due to loss of demand. The ongoing demand destruction will undercut the industry's investments and choke off markets for surplus agricultural oils, adding to the economic hardship that farmers are facing. The Trump administration's action represents a fundamental betrayal of previous promises to farmers and the agricultural economy." (Source: National Biodiesel Board, 10 Aug., 2019) Contact: NBB, Kurt Kovarik, VP Federal Affairs, (800) 841-5849, www.biodiesel.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News National Biodiesel Board,  EPA,  RFS,  


    MORE Small Refinery "Hardship" Waivers Announced (Ind. Report)
    EPA,RFS,Renewable Fuels Association,American Coalition of Ethanol
    Date: 2019-08-12
    On Friday the 9th, the Trump administration EPA, under the administration of former coal industry lobbyist Andrew R, Wheeler, granted 31 more controversial "hardship waivers" allowing refiners to ignore Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) ethanol blending requirements in what might be construed as the administration's and the agency's attempt to bury the RFS in blatant favor of Big Oil. The agency denied 6 waiver requests and left one additional waiver request undecided.

    Needless to say, the President has yet again misled his supporters and the biofuels industry -- along with just about everyone else both domestic and foreign. In response, ethanol and biofuels players and industry organizations wasted no time in venting their rightful outrage.

    "The Trump Administration's approval of 31 refinery exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard is just devastating news for our industry. With this action, President Trump has destroyed over a billion gallons of biofuel demand and broken his promise to Iowa voters to protect the RFS. The vast majority of these exemptions are not justified under the law. Since this news began to leak this afternoon, RFS credit prices have freefallen to nearly zero, destroying much of the incentive to blend an incremental gallon of ethanol." -- Monte Shaw, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Exec. Dir.,

    "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. Today's announcement comes as a total shock, as just two months ago Trump himself heard directly from Iowa farmers and ethanol plant workers about the disastrous economic impacts of these small refinery handouts. In response, he (Trump) told us he would 'look into it' and we believed that would lead to the White House and EPA finally putting an end to these devastating waivers. Instead, the Trump administration chose to double down on the exemptions, greatly exacerbating the economic pain being felt in rural America and further stressing an industry already on life support." -- Geoff Cooper, Pres., CEO, Renewable Fuels Association.

    "EPA's refiner-win-at-all-costs oversight of the RFS is doing real damage to America's farmers and renewable fuel producers who are already suffering from trade wars and volatile markets. The RFS is supposed to ensure the use of ethanol and biodiesel increases from one year to the next, but 85 Small Refinery Exemptions later and over 3 billion waived gallons represents an enormous step backwards." -- Brian Jennings, CEO, American Coalition of Ethanol.

    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: Various Media, AgPro, 9 Aug., 2019) Contact: Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Monte Shaw, Exec. Dir., info@IowaRFA.org, (515) 252-6249, www.iowarfa.org; Renewable Fuels Association, www.ethanolrfa.org; American Coalition of Ethanol, www.ethanol.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Iowa Renewable Fuels Association,  RFS,  "Hardship Waiver",  Ethanol Blend,  Renewable Fuels Association,  ,  


    EPA Ignored DOE in Issuing RFS "Hardship Waivers" (Ind. Report)
    RFS
    Date: 2019-07-29
    Contrary to assertions by the EPA the U.S. DOE confirmed in a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that EPA issued so-called economic "hardship" exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to small refineries, often owned by billion-dollar oil companies, even when DOE found that the refineries faced little or no actual "hardship."

    In a response to an April 10 letter from Grassley, Energy Secretary Rick Perry indicated that EPA had, on at least one occasion, issued an exemption when his department recommended no exemption and ignored recommendations to grant only partial exemptions in other cases. Perry also noted that the agency has not changed how these analyses are applied or scored from the prior Obama Administration.

    Perry also noted that he was aware of instances in which DOE recommended a partial or even no exemption for certain refineries, yet EPA subsequently granted a full exemption. This contradicts former oil industry lobbyist and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's claim before Congress that EPA simply followed DOE's recommendations.

    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 Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was been denied. (Source: DOE, FeedStuff, 29 July, 2019)

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


    Backlash on Proposed RFS RVOs (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2019-07-24
    "By neglecting to prospectively reallocate small refinery exemptions and blatantly ignoring a court order to restore improperly waived gallons, the EPA's proposed 2020 RVOs completely betray President [Donald] Trump's commitment to uphold the integrity of the RFS.

    "EPA's stubborn refusal to obey a court order to restore lost demand is yet another kick in the teeth to U.S. renewable fuel producers and farmers already facing the worst market conditions in a generation. EPA's suggestion that following the court's directive would place an 'additional burden' on obligated parties is an insult and an affront to the farmers and ethanol producers who trusted this administration would follow the law." -- Renewable Fuel Association (RFA), Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    "We are frustrated the EPA did not account for potential waived gallons going forward in the proposed rule. If the EPA continues to grant retroactive waivers, the RVO numbers are meaningless and the EPA is not following the law. Farmers are facing a very tough economic environment and the continued waiver abuse chips away at farmers' bottom line." -- Lynn Chrisp, Pres., National Corn Growers Association, (202) 326-0644, www.ncga.com (Source: RFA, NCGA, Various Media, EHS, 23 July, 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFA,  RVO,  RFS,  NCGA,  "Hardship Waiver",  


    Small Refiners Threaten "Hardship Waivers" Legal Action (Ind. Report)
    EPA
    Date: 2019-07-19
    In Washington, Reuters is reporting a coalition of small U.S. refineries are planning on legal action against the the US EPA unless the agency issues issue its decisions on 2018 petitions for "hardship waivers" from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) within 60 days.

    The Trump administration EPA has more than quadrupled the number of waivers it has granted to refinerswhile at the same time raising the ire of the corn industry who claim the move threatens ethanol demand.

    The small refinery coalition's letter to the EPA said the "EPA is required to act on a petition within 90 days after receipt" and that it also failed to issue decisions on the outstanding 40 petitions for 2018 by March 31, 2019, which the letter said was the compliance deadline.

    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: Reuters, Various Media, 18 July, 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  Ethanol Blend,  


    EPA's RFS Obligations Another Setback for American Farmers, says NFU (Ind. Report)
    NFU,EPA,RFS
    Date: 2019-07-19
    The US EPA's recently proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the year 2020 would set required biofuel use at 20.04 billion gallons next year, a marginal increase over this year's 19.92 billion gallons. The difference is primarily attributable to an expansion of cellulosic biofuel, from 420 million to 540 million gallons. The rule maintains the current 15-million-gallon target for corn ethanol, according to a NFU release.

    In the face of the EPA's proposal, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has expressed its disappointment in the almost unlimited issuance of RFS refinery "hardship waivers", the newly released RVO's and the that the agency's failure not only to factor the lost demand into its proposed RVOs but to increase biofuel use at all. "At every turn, EPA and this (Trump) administration have undermined the intent of RFS and destroyed demand for billions of gallons of ethanol", NFU President Roger Johnson added. (Source: The Cattle Site, National Farmers Union, PR, July, 2019) Contact: National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, Pres., (202) 554-1600, www.nfu.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS news,  NFU news,  National Farmers Union news,  "Hardship Waiver" news,  


    Notable Quote from the Hawkeye State
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2019-07-17
    "I am incredibly disappointed to see that the EPA has failed to reallocate the millions of lost gallons due to their brazen and unprecedented use of small refinery exemption ("hardship") waivers. A robust RFS (renewable fuel standard) is essential to a healthy ag economy in Iowa and across the country." -- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), July, 2019 Contact: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, 515-281-5211, www.governor.iowa.gov/contact

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


    EPA's RFS Obligations Another Setback for American Farmers, says NFU (Ind. Report)
    RFS,EPA,National Farmers Union
    Date: 2019-07-08
    Last Friday, the EPA released its proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the year 2020. The proposal would set required biofuel use at 20.04 billion gallons next year, a marginal increase over this year's 19.92 billion gallons. The difference is primarily attributable to an expansion of cellulosic biofuel, from 420 million to 540 million gallons. The rule maintains the current 15-million-gallon target for corn ethanol.

    In the face of the EPA's proposal, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has expressed its disappointment in the almost unlimited issuance of RFS refinery "hardship waivers", the newly released RVO's and the that the agency's failure not only to factor the lost demand into its proposed RVOs but to increase biofuel use at all.

    "At every turn, EPA and this (Trump) administration have undermined the intent of RFS and destroyed demand for billions of gallons of ethanol", NFU President Roger Johnson added. (Source: The Cattle Site, National Farmers Union, PR, 8 July, 2019) Contact: National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, Pres., (202) 554-1600, www.nfu.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News "Hardship Waiver",  RFS,  National Farmers Union,  Biofuel,  Ethanol Blend,  


    Senators Want Ag Sec. Out of RFS "Hardship Waiver" Decision Process (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    RFS
    Date: 2019-07-03
    Following up on our June 12 coverage, DTN Progressive Farmer is reporting thirteen Republican senators from oil-producing states are calling for President Trump to keep Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue out of EPA Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small refinery "hardship waiver" decision-making process which the Senators claim the Agriculture Secretary has no authority. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA administrator decides, after consulting with the Energy secretary, which refiners receive or are denied a hardship waiver, the Senators note.

    "We strongly oppose giving the Secretary (Perdue) any role in the decision-making process over the petitions. We would view any decisions to further delay, reduce, or deny hardship relief to small refineries, or reallocate the obligations of small refineries to other refineries, as the result of the Secretary of Agriculture's impermissible interference. We are confident that others, including the federal courts, would do the same," the thirteen Senators wrote.

    The small-refinery exemptions have reduced ethanol use by about 2.6 billion gallons, and 38 refiners are waiting for EPA to decide on new exemptions.

    Senators writing the letter included Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) as well as senators representing Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

    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: Various Media, DTN, Progressive Farmer, July, 2019) Contact: Office of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue,(202) 720-2791, feedback@oc.usda.gov, www.usda.gov/contact-us

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Hardship Waiver,  Ethanol,  Ethanol Blend,  RFA,  Sonny Perdue,  


    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,  


    Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act 2019 Introduced (Reg. & Leg.)
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2019-05-31
    Last week in Washington, Chairman of the US House Committee on Agriculture, Collin Peterson (D-Minn), together with Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Rep.Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) introduced the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019.

    The Act, which is intended to bring transparency to the EPA's small refinery "hardship" exemption (SRE) programme under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), will also set a deadline for refineries to submit petitions for RFS exemptions of 1 June to ensure that any waivers granted are "prospectively reallocated to non-exempt obligated parties, as well as require that key information surrounding the SREs is publicly available" according to a statement from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE).

    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: ACE, Various Media, 29 May, 2019)

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


    Candidate Klobuchar Proposes RFS Exemption Changes (Ind Report)
    Klobuchar
    Date: 2019-05-27
    Last week while on the campaign trail in Iowa, Minnesota Senator and 2020 Presidential wannabe Amy Klobuchar (D) called for the revamping of the EPA's RFS "hardship waiver" rules governing small refineries.

    According to Klobuchar, EPA waivers that allow small refineries to avoid the requirements are "misguided" and manipulated by financial institutions and the biofuels credit trading market. The senator proposed new compliance standards and additional oversight. Klobuchar also supports year-round sales of E15.

    To date in the presidential primary race, Klobuchar is near the bottom of the pack and playing on the small refinery waiver program could play well in the Corn-husker State.

    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: IJR, Various Media, Reuters, 25 May, 2019) Contact: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/mobile/email-amy

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Biofuel Blend,  


    ABC Decries Indiscriminate RFS Refinery Exemptions (Ind. Report)
    American Biogas Council
    Date: 2019-05-24
    The American Biogas Council (ABC) released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration's continued attempts to erode the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by the indiscriminate granting of small refinery "hardship" exemptions:

    "The continued issuance of small refinery exemptions undermines the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard and imperils the ability of biogas and other renewable fuel producers to create new investments and jobs, especially in rural communities.

    "As a program, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) works for the biogas industry. It has boosted American production of renewable fuels, brought new revenue streams to farmers and catalyzed investment in biogas systems. In fact, the number of biogas systems that have been built or upgraded to participate in the RFS has grown at a rate of 30 pct annually supplying valuable renewable fuel that can replace conventional natural gas. In the RFS, biogas and renewable natural gas (RNG) related projects represent the fastest growing sector of the RFS and are therefore critical to addressing the gap between the congressionally mandated fuel volumes and the EPA-lowered fuel volumes.

    "But the recent management of the RFS program, in particular, the Administration's frequent issuance of small refinery ("hardship") exemptions has killed demand in this market-based program and is now impeding growth, development, infrastructure investments and the creation of quality American jobs. The prevalent issuance of exemptions has created the impression that any refinery can get one. As a result, small refineries and some larger ones, both in growing numbers, have stopped purchasing biogas hoping that each one might also be granted an exemption by the Administration to not comply with this congressionally mandated program. Due to the volume of fuel that most biogas systems produce, a large proportion of biogas systems sell to small refineries.

    "The Administration must dramatically slow the issuance of small refinery exemptions (SREs) to small refineries and stop granting SREs to large or unqualified refineries. Indiscriminate and frequent issuance of SREs undermine the integrity of the RFS and imperil economic prosperity and energy security. The Administration needs to follow the law that Congress passed." (Source: American Biogas Council, PR, 23 May, 2019) Contact: ABC, Patrick Serfass, Exec. Dir., (202) 640-6595, info@americanbiogascouncil.org, www.AmericanBiogasCouncil.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Hardship Waiver,  Biofuel,  American Biogas Council ,  Biogas,  


    EPA Signals No Timeline for Decisions on RFS Exemption Requests (Reg. & Leg.)
    EPA
    Date: 2019-05-03
    Reuters is reporting the EPA's decision relative to Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligation small refiner "hardship waiver" may come in late May, although the date remains uncertain.

    Although the DOE has provided their scoring of the exemption requests to EPA relative to the 40 requests that have been received for the 2018 compliance year, the agency has not yet to acted on any of those requests. "No decisions regarding 2018 SREs [small refiner exemptions] have been made," Michael Abboud, a spokesman for the EPA said. "Many aspects of the decisions for exempting individual refineries are based on confidential business information."

    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: EPA, Various Media, Progressive Farmer, 3 May, 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA,  RFS,  "Hardship Waiver",  Biofuel Bleand,  


    ABFA Acts Against Additional EPA "Hardship Waivers" (Reg. & Leg.)
    Advanced Biofuels Association
    Date: 2019-05-01
    Further to our 11 March coverage, on April 24th, the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABA) filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler from granting additional small refinery "hardship waivers" until the resolution of its pending lawsuit against EPA.

    "Since EPA began granting these additional exemptions behind closed doors, we have seen devastating market impacts and dropping prices for renewable identification numbers (RINs). We need to stop the bleeding and prevent EPA from ABFA's lawsuit against EPA challenges its methodology for granting these exemptions, arguing the agency more than doubled the number of exempted refineries by illegally changing its petition review process behind closed doors," said ABFA Pres. Michael McAdams.

    "Administrator Wheeler has indicated his intention to move forward on decisions for as many as 39 additional exemptions this year. ABFA cannot stand by while EPA unilaterally and illegally undermines the integrity of the RFS program. These new exemptions provide a financial windfall to refineries at the expense of biofuel producers and distributors. EPA is punishing the parties who have worked to increase the amount of renewable fuel blended into the U.S. transportation fuel supply as Congress intended by enacting the RFS first in 2005 and expanding it in 2007.

    "For the first time since the inception of the RFS, we are seeing reductions in U.S. renewable fuel blending, and EPA's actions are to blame. Until the court is able to rule on the merits of ABFA's pending lawsuit, the agency should be prevented from taking further action."

    "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: Advanced Biofuels Association, 30 April, 2019)Contact: Advanced Biofuels Association, www.advancedbiofuelsassociation.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News "Hardship Waiver",  Advanced Biofuels Association ,  


    EPA Stalls on RFS "Hardship Waiver" Transparency (Ind. Report)
    RFS
    Date: 2019-05-01
    Reuters is reporting the U.S. EPA has suspended work on its plan -- as announced on 12 April -- to publish the names of refineries granted "hardship waiver" exemptions from federal biofuels law after receiving blowback from the White House and parts of the oil industry.

    The EPA currently does not name companies that apply for or receive the waivers, arguing the information is confidential. The corn industry wants that changed because it believes profitable companies are securing waivers, which is hurting farmers. Small refineries owned by profitable oil majors like ExxonMobil and Chevron are among those that have gotten waivers since 2017, according to the Reuters report.

    "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: Yahoo Finance, Reuters, 30 April, 2019)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  "Hardship Waiver",  Ethanol Blend,  


    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,  


    Where's Trump's Former EPA Head Scott Pruitt? (Ind. Report)
    Coal,EPA
    Date: 2019-04-24
    Denver-headquartered Hallador Energy Company, a subsidiary of RailPoint Solutions LLC and Sunrise Coal, reports it has hired former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt to lobby against plans by two electric utilities -- Vectren and NIPSCO -- to shutter aging coal-fired power generation facilities in Indiana by 2030.

    Hallador and Pruitt are urging the Indiana republican controlled legislature to include language in the budget bill that would prohibit the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission from considering Obama-era regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the commission's decisions about rates and other issues that could impact the future of coal-generated electricity in the state.

    Hallador claims Obama clean air regulations are the reason coal costs more than wind, solar and natural gas. They also claim that once President Trump and current EPA head and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler are finished gutting the Obama clean air regulations, the price of coal will drop. According to U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) US coal consumption has plummeted to its lowest levels in nearly 40 years and more coal-fired power plants closed in the first two years of the Trump administration than during President Obama's entire first term.

    As readers may recall, Pruitt resigned from the EPA in July 2018 after an 18-month tenure best remembered for the seemingly mass handout of Renewable Fuel Standard "hardship" waivers to refineries, spending and ethical scandals. 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: Hallador Energy Company, The Environmental Working Group, 23 April, 20190 Contact: Hallador Energy Company, (303) 839-5504, www.halladorenergy.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Scott Pruitt,  Coal,  


    Wheeler Acknowledges RFS "Hardship Waiver" Use (Ind. Report)
    Renwable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2019-04-15
    Nebraska Rural Radio and Reuters are reporting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has acknowledged that the Trump administration's issuance of RFS "hardship" waivers to boost "big oil" profits has drawn the ire of the corn lobby. The corn-for-biofuels growers claim the exemptions have been overused and threaten demand for corn-based ethanol. The waivers have been handed out at a time when farmers are already struggling financially.

    According to Wheeler, "RIN prices have been relatively low and relatively calm since last spring. So that tells me that there should be less economic harm in the refining industry now than there was a year ago."

    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: Neb. Rural Radio, Reuters, Others, 14 April, 2019) Contact: EPA,Administrator Andrew Wheeler, www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epas-acting-administrator

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Andrew Wheeler,  RFS,  RF,  Hardship Waivers,  


    EPA Issuing Partial RFS "Hardship" Waivers for 2018 (Ind. Report)
    EPA, RFS,American Coalition for Ethanol
    Date: 2019-03-25
    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will reportedly issue partial waivers to some of the 39 refiners asking for exemptions from the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The agency also notes it will keep granting partial waivers until the end of March and won’t retroactively reallocate those waived obligations.

    According to the American Coalition for Ethanol the EPA's position is "disappointing and has caused a lot of ethanol demand destruction."

    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: American Coalition for Ethanol, EPA, WNAX Radio, 25 Mar., 2019) Contact: American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, Ron Lamberty, VP, (605) 334-3381, https://ethanol.org.

    More Low-Carbon Energy News American Coalition for Ethanol,  RFS,  Hardship Waivers,  Biofuel Blend,  


    RFA Comments on New EPA Approved RFS "Hardhip Waivers" (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2019-03-22
    The EPA reports approval of five more 2017 Small Refiner "Hardship" Exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and noted that two more petitions have been received for 2018 exemptions, bringing the total to 39. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper offered the following statement:

    "It's extremely disappointing and outrageous to see EPA once again allow oil refiners to undermine the RFS and hurt family farms, ethanol producers and our environment by exploiting and abusing a statutory provision that exempts them from their obligations to blend renewable fuels. The RFS was created to preserve the environment, protect America's energy security and give Americans more affordable options at the pump. These exemptions undercut those goals, and today's exemptions mean more than 2.6 billion gallons of RFS blending obligations have been erased with the stroke of EPA's pen. RFA will continue to fight these exemptions through the courts and urge EPA to adopt a more judicious and restrained decision-making process on refiner exemptions, as well as restore lost volume obligations from previous years."

    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: Renewable Fuels Association, 21 Mar., 2019) Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, Pres., (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Association,  EPA,  RFS Hardship Waiver,  Biofuel Blend,  


    ABA Claims EPA Strayed on RFS "Hardship Waivers" (Reg & Leg)
    EPA,Advanced Biofuels Association
    Date: 2019-03-11
    According to a 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 last Wednesday, 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 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. 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, 8 Mar., 2019) Contact: Advanced Biofuels Association, www.advancedbiofuelsassociation.com

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


    Growth Energy Suing Over RFS "Hardship" Waivers (Reg & Leg)
    Growth Energy
    Date: 2019-02-15
    Ethanol trade association Growth Energy, the ethanol trade association reports it has taken legal action challenging the US EPA's (EPA) "disingenuity" and "failure" to address small refinery "hardship" exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in its 2019 renewable volume obligation (RVO) rulemaking.

    According to Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, the "EPA's inaction on addressing lost gallons due to small refinery exemptions in this rulemaking is a clear violation of law. In doing nothing to remedy these and other deficiencies, EPA has again failed to meet its statutory obligation to ensure that annual RVOs are met each year. Today's filing calls for greater accountability from EPA to ensure that every renewable fuel obligation is fulfilled as the law intended."

    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: Growth Energy, Various Media, Biofuels Int'l, 13 Feb., 2019) Contact: Growth Energy, Emily Skor, CEO, (202) 545-4000, www.growthenergy.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Growth Energy,  RFS Hardship Waiver,  RFS,  EPA,  


    More RFS "Hardship" Waiver Applications Filed (Ind. Report)
    RFS,Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2019-01-02
    According to a recently released US EPA list of small-refinery "hardship" waivers filed under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), seven new applications for waivers have been filed for the 2018 compliance year. All of the waivers were filed between November 10 and December 18, 2018, when the EPA reported receipt of 22 waiver requests for the 2018 compliance year.

    For 2017, EPA received a total of 37 small refinery "hardship waiver" petitions, 29 of which were approved, seven are still pending and one declared ineligible or withdrawn. The 29 approved petitions have exempted roughly 1.46 billion renewable identification numbers (RINs) keeping more than 13.6 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel from meeting the RFS blending targets.

    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: US EPA, NAFB, 31 Dec., 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RINs,  Hardship Waiver,  RFS,  US DOE,  


    EPA Waivers Costly for Ethanol Ind., says Study (Ind Report)
    EPA "Hardship Waivers"
    Date: 2019-01-02
    According to a recently released University of Missouri Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) study, the US EPA's small refinery "hardship" waivers of their obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) could cost the ethanol industry nearly $20 billion annually.

    The study concludes that the small refinery waivers could account for as many as 4.6 billion gallons of domestic demand lost over the next six years, along with the hit to revenue. Conventional biofuel such as corn ethanol stands to fall in use, along with consumption of ethanol in flex fuels and mid-level blends, and wholesale ethanol prices could slip as much as 19 cents per gallon on average. The study also notes that U.S. ethanol consumption stands to drop 761 million gpy on average between 2018 and 2023 with a resulting decline in gross ethanol sales revenues, with an average of $3.3 billion lost per year. (Source: University of Missouri Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute, Transportation Today, 2018) Contact: University of Missouri Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute, (573) 884-4688, www.fapri.missouri.edu

    More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA,  "Hardship Waiver",  Ethanol Biofuel,  


    ExxonMobil Awarded RFS "Hardship Waiver" (Ind. Report)
    Exxon Mobil,Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2018-12-21
    Reuters is reporting the oil juggernaut ExxonMobil, with more than $19 billion in net income for 2017, has been granted a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) "financial hardship waiver" from the EPA for its 60,000 bpd Billings Refinery in Montana.

    ExxonMobil's poor cousin Chevron, with a net 2017 income of only $9.2 billion, also scored a "hardship waiver" for its refinery in Utah on the grounds that without the waiver its refineries would be "at disadvantage in this competitive market."

    Under the RFS, oil refiners must increasingly blend ethanol and other biofuels into their fuel each year or purchase blending credits from those that do. The 2005 regulation was intended to help farmers and to cut fuel imports. But small oil refineries can be exempted from the standard if they prove compliance would cause disproportionate hardship. The EPA granted 29 waivers for the 2017 compliance year, up from 14 in 2015 and 20 in 2016. (Source: ExxonMobil, OilPrice, Reuters, 20 Dec., 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News ExxonMobil,  RFS,  Hardship Waiver,  


    8 New RFS "Hardship" Waiver Applications Since 10 Nov. (Ind. Report)
    RFS
    Date: 2018-12-21
    In Washington, the US EPA is reporting receipt of seven new Renewable Fuel Standard “hardship” waiver petitions for the 2018 compliance year and one new petition for the 2017 compliance year as of Nov. 10 , 2018

    For the 2017 compliance year, the EPA has received 37 small refinery petitions, up from the 36 it had received as of Nov. 10. Twenty-nine of the 37 petitions have been approved , 7 ar pending and 1 was withdrawn. The 29 approved petitions exempted 13.62 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel from meeting the RFS blending targets.

    Under the RFS, oil refiners must increasingly blend ethanol and other biofuels into their fuel each year or purchase blending credits from those that do. The 2005 regulation was intended to help farmers and to cut fuel imports. But small oil refineries can be exempted from the standard if they prove compliance would cause disproportionate hardship. The EPA granted 29 waivers for the 2017 compliance year, up from 14 in 2015 and 20 in 2016. (Source: EPA, Dec. 20, 2018)

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


    Renewable Fuels Standard "Hardship" Waivers on Hold (Reg & Leg)
    Renewable Fuels Standard
    Date: 2018-11-30
    It is being widely reported that the Trump Administration is reconsidering and temporarily frozen Renewable Fuels Standard "hardship" waivers exempting small oil refineries from biofuel blending requirements.

    Under the RFS, oil refiners must increasingly blend ethanol and other biofuels into their fuel each year or purchase blending credits from those that do. The 2005 regulation was intended to help farmers and to cut fuel imports. But small oil refineries can be exempted from the standard if they prove compliance would cause disproportionate hardship. The EPA granted 29 waivers for the 2017 compliance year, up from 14 in 2015 and 20 in 2016. (Source: Various Media, 28 Nov., 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Standard,  Hardship Waiver,  Ethanol,  Biofuel Blend,  


    EPA Updates RFS "Hardship" Waiver Applications (Ind. Report)
    EPA,RFS
    Date: 2018-11-21
    On Nov. 16, the U.S. EPA released updated data on small refinery "hardship" waivers filed under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) showing that no new petitions were filed or approved between Oct. 10 and Nov. 10. As of Nov. 10, the EPA has received 15 petitions seeking small refinery "hardship" waivers for the 2018 compliance year. All 15 petitions are still pending.

    For the 2017 compliance year, EPA received 36 small refinery petitions, 29 of which were approved and 7 are still pending. The 29 petitions approved to date have exempted approximately 1.46 billion renewable identification numbers (RINs), or approximately 13.62 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel from meeting the RFS blending targets.

    For compliance year 2016, the EPA received 20 small refinery petitions, with 19 approved to date and one still pending. The 19 approved petitions have exempted approximately 790 RINs, or 7.84 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel from meeting RFS blending targets.

    The EPA is expected to update data on small refinery hardship waivers monthly, with the next updated expected to be released in mid-December.

    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: US EPA, 16 Nov., 2018)

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


    Biofuel Group Seeks RFS "Hardship Waivers" Freeze (Ind. Report)
    Producers United,
    Date: 2018-11-16
    Reuters is reporting Producers United, a group of unidentified biofuel companies, has asked a federal judge to force the U.S. EPA Agency to stop granting "hardship waivers" exempting small refineries from Renewable Fuel Standard regulations until a lawsuit challenging the agency's actions is resolved.

    The group claims the EPA almost secretly and illegally issued retroactive biofuel credits to HollyFrontier and Sinclair Oil this year, although not required to do so as part of a legal settlement. HollyFrontier received nearly $34 million worth of credits for this year to reverse denial of a waiver for one of its Wyoming plants dating back to 2015. Sinclair scored waivers for two facilities in the same state for 2014 and 2015.

    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: CNBC, Variuos Media, Reuters, 14 Nov., 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Hardship Waiver,  


    Ethanol Players Tell Trump Ethanol Industry Needs Help (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)

    Date: 2018-09-14
    The Renewable Fuels Association and other agriculture and ethanol groups on Wednesday appealed to President Donald Trump to immediately approve year-round sales of E15 and to reallocate Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small-refinery waivers to larger refiners as originally intended under the RFS.

    In a joint letter, the groups stress that small-refinery waivers have given refiners "exactly what they asked for: artificially low RIN (renewable identification numbers) credit prices and weaker biofuel blending requirements." Ethanol RIN prices have been trading between 20 and 30 cents since May as a result of the waivers, or a decrease of about 80 pct since last fall, the groups said.

    Read the letter HERE. (Source: RFA, DTN/Progressive Farmer , Others, 12 Sept., 2018)

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


    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,  


    Study says EPA Waivers Could Cost Ethanol Ind. $20 bln (Ind Report)
    EPA
    Date: 2018-09-12
    According to a recently released University of Missouri Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) study, the US EPA's small refinery "hardship" waivers of their obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) could cost the ethanol industry nearly $20 billion annually.

    The study concludes that the small refinery waivers could account for as many as 4.6 billion gallons of domestic demand lost over the next six years, along with the hit to revenue. Conventional biofuel such as corn ethanol stands to fall in use, along with consumption of ethanol in flex fuels and mid-level blends, and wholesale ethanol prices could slip as much as 19 cents per gallon on average.

    The study also found that U.S. ethanol consumption stands to drop 761 million gpy on average between 2018 and 2023 with a resulting decline in gross ethanol sales revenues, with an average of $3.3 billion lost per year.

    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: University of Missouri Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute, Transportation Today, 11 Sept., 2018) Contact: University of Missouri Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute, (573) 884-4688, www.fapri.missouri.edu

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuel Standard,  Hardship Waiver,  RFS,  EPA,  Ethanol,  EPA Hardship Waivers,  


    AFBF Comments on Biofuels Volumes, Small Refinery Hardship Waivers (Opinions, editorials & Asides)
    American Farm Bureau Federation
    Date: 2018-08-27
    "Though pleased with EPA's proposal to increase renewable fuel volumes, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) warned that the agency's excessive use of small refinery "hardship" waivers diminishes the likelihood that volume targets will be met.

    "EPA's excessive use (of small refinery waivers) will undermine the goals that were set by Congress to create a more robust renewable fuels industry and greater energy independence. EPA's actions could result in an estimated 1.5 billion gallons of lost demand for renewable fuels," the AFBF said.

    "EPA's proposed renewable fuels volume standards for 2019 would maintain the statutory requirement for conventional renewable fuel at 15 billion gallons, increase cellulosic fuels to 381 million gallons and bump up total advanced biofuels to 4.88 billion gallons. It would also increase the biomass-based diesel volume to 2.43 billion gallons for 2020.

    "The AFBF touted the Renewable Fuel Standard's many successes, including the growth it spurred within the agriculture sector as corn and soybean farmers expanded their crop production to meet growing demand for corn- and soybean-based biofuels.

    "Beyond the boost to the agricultural economy, the RFS2 is intended to spur investment in cleaner, domestic fuels; give consumers more choices at the pump; lower gas prices; and boost the country's energy security. But EPA has allowed dozens of oil refineries off the hook from their legal obligations to blend renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel fuel, which is jeopardizing this progress, according to Farm Bureau.

    "Given the accomplishments of the RFS program to date, EPA's excessive and unreasonable use of the small refinery waiver dampens the prospects for reduced emissions and increased energy security," the organization cautioned.

    "AFBF also addressed the RIN market as it relates to the current RFS2 program, noting that RINS are functioning properly and providing incentives for refiners to offer higher blends of ethanol in the market at prices that are increasingly competitive with conventional gasoline. A RIN is a serial number assigned to a batch of biofuel for the purpose of tracking its production, use and trading.

    "In addition, the organization emphasized that the petroleum industry's unwillingness to offer higher blends of biofuels should not be taken as evidence that the RFS2 is unworkable. Rather, it is evidence that they are unwilling to adapt to policies enunciated by Congress. But making space in the market for alternative fuels that contribute to energy independence, environmental improvement, and economic development is exactly the point of RFS2." (Source: American Farm Bureau Federation, FBNews, 21 Aug., 2018) Contact: American Farm Bureau Federation, Sarah Brown Dirkes, Exec. Director, Industry Relations, (202) 406-3684, sarahd@fb.org, www.fb.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Hardship Waiver,  EPA,  


    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,  


    RFA Seeks Court Action to Set RFS Back on Track (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuels Association ,Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2018-08-06
    The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) reports it is taking legal action to challenge the EPA's abuse in issuing small refiner "hardship" waivers from the RFS. According to RFA Executive VP Geoff Cooper, the excessive number of waivers have cut into the demand biofuel and that the surplus of RINS has led to lower costs for refiners who then do not blend as much ethanol as they could and should. Court action is expected to get underway within the next few months.

    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: RFS, WNAX Radio, 2 Aug., 2018)Contact: RFA, Bob Dinneen, Pres., (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS Waivers,  Renewable Fuels Association,  Renewable Fuel Standard ,  


    Ergon Wrongfully Denied RFS Hardship Relief, Appeals Court Rules (Reg & Leg)
    Ergon
    Date: 2018-07-20
    In a recent release, Newell, West Firginia-based Ergon - West Virginia, Inc reports the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has vacated and remanded the EPA's denial of a 2016 petition for a small refinery "hardship waiver" filed by Ergon - West Virginia, Inc., (EWV) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

    Family-owned EWV owns and operates a 23,000 bpd specialty paraffinic refinery that produces paraffinic base oils, paraffinic bright stocks, waxes, petrolatum, petroleum resins, E10 gasoline and ultra low sulfur diesel.

    According to the press release, "EWV blends 10 pct ethanol with 99 pct of the gasoline it produces and will continue to do so, even without a mandate. However, EWV cannot pass through its RIN costs and the detrimental impact imposed by the RFS on EWV's high diesel production is unacceptable and counter to the intent of the RFS program."

    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: Ergon West Virginia, PR, Contact: Ergon West Virginia, Inc., Kirk Latson, VP Fuels Marketing, Kathy Potts, Communications & Marketing, (601) 933-3000, kathy.potts@ergon.com, www.ergon.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Hardship Waiver,  EPA,  


    Iowa Gov. Comments on RFS (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Iowa Gov. Kim Reynols
    Date: 2018-07-20
    "Our (Iowa) farmers need some positive news. It's our hope new EPA leadership will adhere to promises made by President Trump to protect the RFS and grow demand for our homegrown fuels. It's time to end the domestic demand destruction by undermining of the RFS. It's time to open up the market for higher ethanol blends, E15 and above, to be sold year round. Unfortunately, the proposed RFS rule before us does neither of those things.

    "On the surface, the numbers appear positive. Conventional biofuels like corn ethanol are set at 15 billion gallons and cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel and total advanced levels are all proposed to increase. But the EPA's decision to grant numerous small-refinery waivers and to not reallocate those volumes as the law envisioned, undercuts the 15 billion gallon level.

    "These small refinery waivers have created the backdoor destruction of 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol demand. That means 500 million bushels of corn will be left in the bins, putting added pressure on already low commodity prices. Every RFS category is reduced by these small refiner waiver exemptions. In fact, it almost wipes out the proposed increase for advanced biofuels.

    "And the 15 billion gallons ethanol number is in reality more like 13.5 billion. To put that in context, nearly 1 billion gallons less ethanol than was blended into U.S. gasoline in 2017. That is not progress. That is not the letter or spirit of the RFS. And that is not what President Trump promised the voters of Iowa. This issue must be addressed. The criteria for exemptions must be reasonable and transparent, and any exemptions must be reallocated to the remaining obligated parties. Correcting the small refinery exemption excesses need to be in the final rule. 15 billion gallons must mean 15 billion gallons.

    "The former head )Pruitt) of the EPA often said that the decision to allow year-round sales of E15 was a matter of authority, not policy. The EPA has publicly acknowledged it has the authority, so it's time to act. It's also time for the EPA to stop ignoring a court order to restore 500 million gallons of conventional ethanol demand that was illegally waived by the Obama Administration for the 2016 compliance year." (Source: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), 18 July, 2018) Contact: Office of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, https://governor.iowa.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Ethanol,  RFS,  Ethanol Blend,  Hardship Waiver,  E15,  


    ACE Testifies on Proposed 2019 RVOs (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    American Coalition for Ethanol
    Date: 2018-07-20
    The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) VP Ron Lamberty testified on July 18 during the public hearing in Ypsilanti, Mich., on the EPA's proposed Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for the 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

    "With the departure of the previous EPA Administrator (Pruitt) , I hope EPA will take this opportunity to return to implementing the RFS as intended by Congress. Pruitt's seemingly sole focus on helping merchant refiners ignore or skirt their longstanding obligations under the RFS has further shaken the rural farm economy while undermining Congress' goal of increasing renewable fuel use in the United States.

    "EPA's misapplication of the small refiner (hardship) waiver authority has destroyed an estimated 2.25 billion gallons of biofuel demand in 2016 and 2017 alone. The 2019 proposal does nothing to reallocate the gallons of ethanol lost due to RFS waivers, nor does it restore the 500 million gallons of biofuel demand lost because of EPA's actions in misapplying the economic harm waiver in the 2016 RVO as determined by the courts that ordered EPA to return those gallons as well. This RVO rulemaking is the perfect place for EPA to restore these biofuel volumes under the RFS, allow for E15 and higher blends to be sold year-round, and discard of its refiner win-at-all-costs mentality."

    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: American Coalition for Ethanol, Convenience Store Decisions, 19 July, 2018) Contact: American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, Ron Lamberty, VP, (605) 334-3381, https://ethanol.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News American Coalition for Ethanol,  RFS,  Pruitt,  HJardship Waiver,  


    EPA Plan to Force Refiners to Blend More Biofuels Nixed (Ind. Report)
    EPA, Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2018-07-13
    Reuters is reporting the US EPA as abandoned plans that would have forced refiners to blend more biofuels into their gasoline and diesel in 2019 to compensate for volumes likely to be exempted under the agency's small refinery hardship waiver program, according to newly released EPA documents.

    The plan would have boosted the renewable fuel blending obligation from 10.88 pct to 11.76 pct to offset volumes lost under the waiver program, which has been expanded sharply under Scott Pruitt's tenure at the EPA.

    The idea was apparently aimed at assuaging the U.S. corn lobby which has accused Trump's EPA of undermining the demand for biofuels like corn-based ethanol through the waiver program, but was scrapped amid intense protest from the refining industry, according to the Reuters report.

    The "hardship" exemptions representing some 2.25 million gallons worth of biofuel were granted for 2017 and 2016, including waivers covering 1.46 million compliance credits (RINS). The EPA projected some 8.18 billion gallons of gasoline and 5.44 billion gallons of diesel produced by small refiners would be exempt from the requirements in 2019, according to the EPA.

    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: EPA, Manitoba Co-oporator, Various Media, Reuters, 12 July, 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel Blend,  RFS,  Pruitt,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  "Hardship" Waiver,  


    TOTAL TX Refinery Considered RFS "Hardship Waiver" (Ind. Report)
    TOTAL
    Date: 2018-06-29
    Paris-headquartered French oil and natural gas giant TOTAL, the fourth-largest oil company in the world, CEO Patrick Pouyanne reportedly contemplated asking the US EPA for a Renewable fuel standard "hardship" waiver exempting a refiney it owns in Texas from having to blend ethanol into the U.S. gasoline supply. The company's legal team, however, reportedly replied to Pouyanne's suggestion with an emphatic "No. Our refinery is too big," according to Pouyanne.

    As previously reported, "hardship" waivers were intended for small refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and those that 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: TOTAL, Various Media, Washington Post, June 25, 2018) Contact: TOTAL, www.total.com/en

    More Low-Carbon Energy News TOTAL,  RFS,  Hardship Waiver,  Biofuel Blend,  

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