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

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

"This midnight-hour attempt by the Trump administration to damage the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and sabotage the ethanol industry's recovery from the COVID pandemic simply cannot be allowed to prevail. With just hours remaining in his shameful term as EPA administrator, Wheeler couldn't stop himself from doling out a few more Clean Air Act compliance exemptions to his well-connected friends. But the fact remains that this action by EPA is completely without legal merit. It flouts both the statute and recent court decisions that clearly limit EPA's authority and ability to grant these exemptions. And while this action comes as one last sucker punch from the Trump administration, we are confident it will be a hollow victory for the politically connected oil companies receiving today's waivers, as the new Biden administration will most certainly act quickly to restore the volumes erased by these waivers," RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper said.

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

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

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


EPA Proposes Extension of RFS Deadlines (Ind. Report)
EPA, Renewable Fuel Standard
Date: 2021-01-18
In its just published draft rulemaking, the EPA proposed extending the deadline for refineries to prove compliance with federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) blending mandates in 2019.

The agency proposed a new 2019 compliance deadline of 30 November 2021, with a 1 June 2022 deadline for refineries processing less than 75,000 b/d of crude a year. The 2020 mandates would have deadlines of 31 January 2022 and 1 June 2022 for small refineries, under the proposal. Deadlines to prove compliance for the 2019 mandates were last March, and for the 2020 compliance year March of this 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. (Source: EPA, PR, 14 Jan., 2021)

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


Supreme Court to Review RFS Biofuel Waivers (Reg. & Leg.)
RFS Waivers
Date: 2021-01-11
The US Supreme Court will review the ability of oil refineries to win exemptions from federal biofuel-blending quotas under Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) legislation.

Under the January 2020 ruling that the Supreme Court will now review, the EPA was found to have wrongly waived three refineries from the renewable fuel requirements. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit also said that refineries are only eligible for relief if they have received uninterrupted, continuous extensions of the exemptions -- an exclusion that means only a handful nationwide will qualify.

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 Trade Media, 8 Jan., 2021)

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


Biofuels Coalition Challenges 2018 RFS Hardship Waivers (Ind. Report)
Renewable Fuels Association
Date: 2020-12-09
A coalition of the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, and National Farmers Union have filed a brief to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging EPA's August 2019 decision to exempt 31 small refineries from their obligations to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2018.

The filing argues the EPA was not authorized to issue the exemptions and that it acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in its decision.

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.

Download the coalition's brief HERE. (Source: Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Farmers Union, 8 Dec., 2020) Contact: National Farmers Union, Rob Larew, Pres., (202) 554-1600, www.nfu.org; Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, Pres., CEO, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS Hardship Waiver,  Renewable Fuels Association,  RFS,  National Farmers Union,  


EPA Misses 2021 RFS RVO Announcement (Opinions & Asides)
Renewable Fuels Association,National Farmers Union
Date: 2020-12-02
Commenting on the US EPA's again missing the annual statutory deadline for the release of the RVOs, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said:

"It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that EPA is missing its statutory deadline for publishing the final rule for 2021 RVOs, given that we still haven't even seen a proposed rule. And even if a proposed rule was released today, it would be next to impossible to have a final rule done by the end of the calendar year, or even by inauguration day.

"At this point, it likely makes more sense to let the new administration handle the 2021 RVO rulemaking process entirely. President-elect Biden has correctly noted that the RFS waivers granted by the current EPA have severely cut ethanol production, costing farmers income and ethanol plant workers their jobs. Thus, we are confident that the new EPA administrator, whoever that may end up being, will stop doing secret favors for oil refiners and ensure the RFS is implemented in a way that is consistent with the law and Congressional intent. We know it may take a few months for the new administration to get a final 2021 RVO rule done, but in the meantime, the statute is crystal clear that refiners must blend at least 15 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuel in 2021.

"So, while there may be some uncertainty around where the final advanced and cellulosic volume requirements may end up, the marketplace should be able to enter 2021 with some level of confidence around the conventional renewable fuel and biomass-based diesel requirements."

National Farmers Union President Rob Larew added, "By punting a decision on 2021's RVOS to the next administration, EPA is introducing yet more uncertainty to the biofuels industry -- uncertainty that most farmers and biofuels producers can't afford right now. Despite promising again and again to uphold RFS, the Trump administration has consistently undermined the program with its misappropriation of small refinery exemptions, preferential treatment of oil corporations, and disregard for its legal responsibility to restore lost demand, all of which has cost America's farmers and biofuel producers dearly. To add insult to injury, fuel use -- and, consequently, ethanol use -- has dropped significantly during the pandemic, cutting deeply into profits.

"Trump's EPA has almost invariably fallen short in its handling of biofuels, and today's decision, or lack thereof, is no different. We sincerely hope Biden's EPA learns from their mistakes and takes biofuels policy in a much more promising direction." (Source: National Farmers Union, Renewable Fuels Association, FencePost, 30 Nov., 2020) Contact: National Farmers Union, Rob Larew, Pres., (202) 554-1600, www.nfu.org; Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, Pres., CEO, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Association,  RFS,  National Farmers Union ,  


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

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

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

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

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


MN Dem. Calls for EPA, RFS Waiver Transparency (Reg & Leg)
RFS Waivers
Date: 2020-09-18
In Washington, Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson (D), chair of the House Agriculture Committee, has introduced legislation that would set a deadline for refiners to request exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and require the EPA to publicly release the name of refiners requesting a waiver, the number of gallons requested to be waived and the number of gallons of biofuel that won't be blended as result of the waiver.

Peterson is calling for transparency to be achieved before the 2021 oil refinery renewable volume obligations are released by the EPA. (Source: Office of Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson, WNAX, Sept., 2020) Contact: Office of Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson, (507) 637-2270, collinpeterson.house.gov

More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Refinery Waivers,  Biofuel Blend,  


Could Trump Use USDA Funds for RFS Waiver Payoffs? (Ind. Report)
RFS Waivers
Date: 2020-09-18
Further to our 16 Sept. coverage, the Trump EPA denied 54 of the pending 99 small refinery exemption (SRE) requests from oil refiners to blend less ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). However, EPA still hasn't acted on 44 waivers, 14 of which are also gap-year waivers and 31 of which are for the 2019 and 2020 blending requirements.

In a blatant move to win support and placate the biofuels and refinery interests, Trump has suggested he'd provide $300 million to oil refiners and that those funds would come out of the USDA Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) which is intended to provide farmers with Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments.

Commenting on Trump's possible cash payments to refiners scheme, former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he "strongly expects that no action will be taken on the remaining waivers until after the election." Vilsack was critical of the reports that the President indicated that he would offer $300 million through the CCC fund in lieu of the waiver approvals, as the CCC is designed specifically to be used by USDA for the purpose of helping farmers.

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: EPA, Feedstuffs, 17 Sept., 2020)

More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump,  RFS,  Refinery Waivers,  Biofuel Blend,  Tom Vilsack ,  


54 Pending RFS Biofuel "Hardship" Waivers Denied! (Ind. Report)
RFS Waivers
Date: 2020-09-16
In Washington, the Trump Administration's EPA has rejected 54 retroactive renewable fuel standard biofuel "hardship waiver" petitions that were pending review.

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.

Interestingly, it is being widely reported that Trump is suggesting cash payments to refineries that have had waiver applications rejected, thus placating the biofuels and oil industries in a thinly-veiled move to win re-election in Nov. (Source: Various Media, OilPrice, 14 Sept., 2020)

More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump,  RFS,  Refinery Waivers,  Biofuel Blend,  


Trump Reportedly Denies Retroactive RFS Waivers (Ind. Report)
RFS
Date: 2020-09-11
Reuters is reporting U.S. Pres. Trump has instructed the EPA to deny dozens of oil refiner requests for retroactive "hardship waivers" under the Renewable Fuels Standard.

The president's could be seen as an effort to shore up his support in the Corn Belt states.

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.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress. (Source: Chronicle Herald, 10 Sept., 2020)

More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump,  RFS,  Refinery Waivers,  Biofuel Blend,  


NBB Launches RFS Support Ad Campaign (Ind. Report)
National Biodiesel Board
Date: 2020-08-26
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) reports the launch of a two-week radio advertising campaign in six states including Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota urging Pres. Trump to direct the EPA to reject the gap small refiner waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard.

NBB wants farmers to go to their website and complete a pre-written request to the President and EPA administrator to reject those gap small refiner waivers, 85 bof which have been issues over the past three 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. 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: NBB, WNAX 26 Aug., 2020) Contact: NBB, Paul Winters, Pres., Kurt Kovarik, VP of Federal Affairs, (800) 841-5849, www.nbd.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News National Biodiesel Board,  NBB,  RFS Waivers ,  


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

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

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


Ethanol "Growth will come from exports, period" (Notable Quotes)
Ethanol
Date: 2020-08-03
"The ethanol industry is in worse shape than we thought prior to this pandemic.

"The ethanol industry's problem is bigger than the waivers. Even with DDG (livestock feed) sales, they (ethanol producers) are losing money because we have been awash in oil and now the recession has lowered prices." -- David Swenson, Iowa State University Economist speaking to the Iowa Farmers Union via Zoom on July 30.

In Iowa, at least 10 of the 43 plants had completely shut down at some point during the COVID-19 pandemic and others had limited production. Contact: David Swenson, Iowa State University, (515) 294-7458, dswenson@iastate.edu, www.iastate.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News Ethanol,  DDGs,  


EPA Considering Retroactive Small-Refinery Waivers (Ind. Report)
EPA, RFS
Date: 2020-07-17
The EPA on Thursday posted six additional pending requests for retroactive small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the agency dashboard, bringing the grand total to 58 such requests for waivers for compliance years 2011 through 2018.

The agency now lists seven pending requests each for 2011 and 2012, 11 each for 2013 and 2015, 12 in 2014, eight in 2016 and two in 2018, as well as 27 listed for 2019 and one for 2020. The agency granted 85 waivers for the period 2016 to 2018.

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.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress. (Source: EPA,DTN, 16 July, 2020)

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


SD Senator Introduces RFS Pathway Biofuels Legislation (Re g & Leg)
Biofuel
Date: 2020-06-19
South Dakota Senator John Thune (R) has introduced bipartisan legislation that would help approve certain Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) pathway applications like corn fiber. The measure would compel the EPA to move forward on advanced biofuel applications rather than letting them sit idled at the agency awaiting action refinery applications for waivers move through the system, according to the Senator's release. (Soure: WNAX, 19 June, 2020) Contact: Senator John Thune, (202) 224-2321, (605) 348-7551, www.thune.senate.gov

More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Biofuel,  


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

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

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

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


RFA Urges Trump to Reject Refinery Waivers (Ind. Report)
RFA
Date: 2020-06-12
"One year ago today, you visited Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs to join us in celebrating a monumental achievement. At your direction, EPA had just completed regulatory changes finally allowing year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 pct ethanol (E15).

"This long-awaited move unlocked the door to future demand growth for ethanol and corn. It also meant consumers would have increased access to cleaner and more affordable fuel options at the pump.

"Just as expected, the marketplace responded quickly. In the year since the red-tape barrier was removed, E15 sales are up 50pct.

"But E15 growth would have been exponentially larger if not for your EPA continuing to excuse oil refiners from their legal obligations to blend renewable fuels. As we told you a year ago, EPA's refinery waivers have caused devastating demand losses for ethanol and corn, and they under mine the expansion of E15.

"Even after a federal court overturned some refinery waivers in January, your EPA continues to receive dozens of exemption requests from oil companies. EPA is now even considering giving retroactive waivers for years that pre-date your administration.

"This needs to stop. It is hurting farmers, costing consumers, and derailing progress on energy and environmental security.

"The economic pain in farm country caused by these refinery waivers was compounded this spring—first by the Saudi-Russia oil price war, and then by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this 'perfect tsunami,' half of the ethanol industry was recently shut down, leading to layoffs across rural America. The ethanol industry and farmers are hurting like never before.

Mr. President, we need your help. We ask that you stand up for the Renewable Fuel Standard. Please direct your EPA to abide by the January court ruling and end the abuse of the refinery waiver loophole.

"You stood by us, farmers, and consumers when you directed EPA to allow year-round E15. Now, we humbly ask that you stand with us again and ensure ethanol demand is not eroded by illegal refinery waivers. Thank you,"

Geoff Cooper, Pres. & CEO Renewable Fuels Associationwww.EthanolRFA.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS news,  Refinery Waivers news,  Biofuel Blend news,  RFA news,  


Trump Urged to Reject Waiver Requests (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
EPA,Renewable Fuel Standard
Date: 2020-05-11
In the nation's capitol, a bipartisan group of 24 U.S. senators -- including Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tina Smith(D-Minn) Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) have written the following to the White House:

"We are writing to urge you to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and immediately reject the requests for a waiver of the RFS under Section 211(o)(7) of the Clean Air Act recently received by the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) from five state governors.

"Across our states, biofuels lower fuel prices, create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new energy economy, many of which are in rural areas, provide an important market for farmers, cut our reliance on foreign oil, reduce emissions and harmful air pollutants, and provide critical inputs to our food supply.

"Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the global health pandemic caused by COVID-19, with the impacts being felt across all of society. Waiving the RFS would cause further harm to the U.S.economy, especially our most vulnerable rural communities. It would also exacerbate the effects experienced by the biofuel sector as a result of COVID-19, causing far-reaching detrimental impacts on employment, farmers, food security, fuel prices, and the environment. The resiliency of America's renewable fuel industry has already suffered as a result of the EPA's drastic expansion of the small refinery waiver program in recent years.

"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security identified the biofuels sector as an essential critical infrastructure workforce during the COVID-19 response. However, as motor fuel demand has plummeted, prices have slumped to record lows and producers are suffering heavy losses. At this point more than 70 ethanol facilities with an annual production capacity of 6.1 billion gallons have been fully idled, and approximately 70 more plants have reduced their operating rates by a combined amount of 1.9 billion gallons annualized. At least 46 pct of the ethanol industry's total production capacity is now idled, and eight biodiesel and renewable diesel facilities remain offline. Highly-skilled jobs across the country are being lost at an alarming rate.

"Biofuel plant closures have ripple effects through the U.S. economy. Farm income is directly linked to the health of the renewable fuel industry. Plant shutdowns are causing commercial CO2 supply shortages and inhibiting the ability of meat packers and other food sectors to refrigerate, preserve,and supply food and beverages at current, affordable rates. Ethanol plants also produce low cost, high-protein animal feed (distillers grains). Supply shortages as a result of biofuel plant closures are impacting livestock feed procurement, rations, and prices. Biodiesel producers provide value to surplus and waste oils, fats and greases from food, feed and other biofuel production. Without the biodiesel industry, excess feedstocks will clog the supply chain, causing livestock producers to potentially raise prices for consumers. Removing biofuels from gasoline and diesel will also lead to an increase of greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter, and toxics-causing degradation to our air quality.

"Recent requests for a waiver of the RFS are unjustified and clearly do not satisfy the rigorous requirements necessary for EPA consideration. RFS waivers can only be granted by EPA if there is a demonstration of 'severe harm' to the economy or environment of a state, region or the United States that is directly caused by the RFS. None of these standards are met today and the following reasons clearly demonstrate the case for rejecting the waiver requests:

  • Challenging market conditions in the oil sector are the directresult of oversupply from international competitors combined with falling gasoline, diesel and jet fuel demand as a result of the COVID-19, not the RFS.

  • The RFS already accommodates demand reductions and provides flexibility to reflect the reality of motor fuel demand. EPA translates the annual RFS requirements into a percentage share of gasoline and diesel. Thus, the existing structure of the RFS regulations already results in an oil refiner's renewable volume obligations being proportionally reduced if overall motor fuel demand drops over the year

  • EPA has repeatedly found that RIN prices do not negatively impact refiners, a position reinforced by the 10th Circuit court in January 200. In addition, a record-large supply of RINs is available to refiners today, largely as a consequence of EPA's abusive expansion of the small refinery exemption program, so the threat of high RIN prices is currently non-existent.

    "We urge you to direct the EPA to reject all calls to waive the RFS. The RFS is more important now than ever as farmers, the biofuel sector, and rural America struggle to remain operational during the COVID-19 crisis." (Source: US Senate, 8 May, 2020)

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


  • Governors Seeking RFS Refinery "Hardship" Waivers (Ind. Report)
    EPS, Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2020-04-27
    ICIS is reporting the governors of Louisiana (D), Texas (R), Oklahoma (R), Utah (R) and Wyoming (R) have written to the US EPA asking for "hardship" waivers for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for refiners in their states. In their appeal, the governors noted plunging fuel demand as the reason for the request.

    According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) the states currently under the COVID-19 pandemic "stay at home orders" account for 95 pct of US fuel demand. Meanwhile, ethanol market producers and players say that it is a "convenient reason for them (oil refiners) to escape a US law", and that doing so would further harm ethanol demand.

    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.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress.(Source: Various Trade Media, ICIS, 17 April, 2020)

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


    Renewable Fuels Coalition Comments on Admin's Not Seeking SRE Ruling Re-hearing (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Americans for Clean Energy
    Date: 2020-03-27
    Further to our 20th Jan. coverage, a coalition of the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union released the following statement:

    "We are pleased the Trump administration has decided not to side with oil refiners in seeking a re-hearing of this unambiguous and well-reasoned court decision in the Tenth Circuit. We trust this also means the administration does not plan to petition the Supreme Court for an appeal. Abiding by the court's ruling is the right thing to do at a time when our industries and rural America are already suffering from the effects of COVID-19, the Saudi-Russia oil price war and ongoing trade disputes.

    "We look to the RFS as a source of demand stability and certainty, especially in these troubling times. Requesting a re-hearing would have only prolonged uncertainty in the marketplace and exacerbated the pain and frustration already being experienced in the Heartland.

    "With this key milestone now behind us, we look forward to EPA applying the Tenth Circuit decision nationwide to all SRE (small refiner exemption) petitions, beginning with the 25 pending petitions for 2019 exemptions."

    The coalition also noted that fully restoring the integrity of the RFS means immediate action to restore 500 million gallons of inappropriately waived 2016 blending requirements, as ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. District in 2017. (Source: Various Media, The Fence Post, 25 Mar., 2020) Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org; American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, (605) 334-3381 ext. 3389, www.ethanol.org; National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, Pres., (202) 554-1600, www.nfu.org; NCGA, (636) 733-9004, (636) 733-9005 -fax, corninfo@ncga.com, www.ncga.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Americans for Clean Energy,  RFS "Hardship" ,  Waivers,  Renewable Fuels Associatio,  National Farmers Union,  National Corn Growers Association,  American Coalition for Ethanol,  


    Renewable Fuels Coalition Urges EPA to NOT Appeal Court "Hardship" Waiver Decision (Ind. Report, Reg. & Leg.)
    American Coalition for Ethanol
    Date: 2020-03-20
    With the need for a decision only days away, the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union -- the coalition that scored a unanimous court decision against the U.S. EPA -- is now calling for the agency to not appeal the decision.

    The coalition took the EPA to court and won over several "hardship" exemptions the EPA granted to small refineries, releasing them from their renewable fuel obligations in 2016 and 2017. The Trump Administration sought and secured an extension of the appeal deadline until Tuesday, March 24, this year.

    "With the renewable fuels industry reeling from coronavirus, trade disputes and small refinery exemptions, now is certainly not the time for the Trump administration to take any action that would cause further pain for ethanol producers or the farmers that supply them. The best thing they could do to support our industry and keep ethanol plants open is to announce immediately that they will not appeal," the coalition wrote.

    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.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress. (Source: American Coalition for Ethanol , Various Trade Media, 18 March 2020) Contact: 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; American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, (605) 334-3381 ext. 3389, www.ethanol.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News American Coalition for Ethanol,  RFS,  "Hardship Wiver",  Renewable Fuel ,  


    US Renewable Fuel Prices Up With RFS "Hardship Waiver" Program Announcement (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuel
    Date: 2020-02-28
    Reuters is reporting U.S. renewable fuel prices were up by 25 pct the week following a Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration has decided to cut back on "hardship waiver" exemptions for oil refineries from the renewable fuel standard biofuel blending laws.

    Following the Bloomberg report, renewable fuel credits for 2019 traded at 35 cents each , up 7 cents while credits for 2020 traded at 40 cents each.

    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.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress.

    (Source: Various Media, Successful Farming, Reuters, 26 Feb., 2020)

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


    Green Plains Adding Corn-Based Livestock Feed (Ind. Report)
    Green Plains Inc
    Date: 2020-02-12
    Omaha-headquartered ethanol producer Green Plains Inc. reports it will invest $400 million over the next two years to refocus its business on the production of corn-based, high protein animal feeds at its various production facilities. With this refocusing, ethanol will become a low-margin byproduct for the company.

    According to Reuters, the company's new game plan is in response to an uncertain ethanol market outlook, the Trump administration's continued issuance of RFS ethanol blending "hardship waivers" and an almost 20 pct drop in revenues from ethanol sales in 2019.

    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 waiver request for an exemption was denied. (Source: Green Plains, Successful Farming, Feb., 2020)Contact: Green Plains, Jim Stark, VP-IR, (402) 884-8700, www.gpreinc.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Green Plains Inc.,  DDGs,  Ethanol,  RFS,  


    E15 Sales Surge After Removal of Regulatory Barrier (Report Attached)
    Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2020-02-07
    New analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has revealed that around 500 million gallons of E15, a blend of 15% ethanol fuel, were sold across the US I 2019, setting a new record. The review, carried out by, extrapolated the Minnesota data nationally, finding that 499 million gallons of E15 were sold in 2019. This volume contained 75 million gallons of ethanol.

    The data also suggests that the impact of small refinery "hardship" waivers under the RFS took a toll on the industry. On a per-station basis, sales of E15 were lower in the first few months of 2019 than during the same period the year before. This change can be attributed to the fact that the EPA granted numerous exemptions under the RFS to small refineries, causing the price of RFS compliance credits (RINs) to fall. thus reducing the incentive for retailers to offer blends of fuel with higher ethanol content, reducing their ability to discount higher blends relative to gasoline.

    The full RFA analysis is HERE (Source: RFA, 4 Feb., 2020) Contact: RFA, Scott Richman, Economist, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

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


    Biofuels Ind. Groups Applaud Court's RFS Waiver Ruling (Ind Report)
    Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2020-01-29
    Further to Monday, 27 Jan. coverage -- Court Disqualifies Recent RFS "Hardship" Waivers -- the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and other biofuel industry groups are praising the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down three small refinery "hardship" exemption waivers.

    The court ruled the EPA cannot "extend” exemptions to any small refineries whose earlier, temporary exemptions had lapsed" as was the case in the three over ruled exemptions.

    Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA)noted: "The Court has affirmed our long-held position that EPA's recent practices and policies regarding small refinery exemption extensions were completely unlawful. And while the decision addresses three specific exemptions, the statutory interpretation issues resolved by the court apply much more broadly."

    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, Agri-Pulse, 28 Jan., 2020) Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

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


    Court Disqualifies Recent RFS "Hardship" Waivers (Reg & Leg.)
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2020-01-27
    It is being widely reported that a U.S. appeals court has ordered the EPA to reconsider three recently issued Renewable Fuel Standard small refinery "hardship waivers" on the grounds that the refineries did not qualify for the waivers and their issuance was "flawed."

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit dated Jan. 24 came after a coalition of biofuel industry groups had challenged the 2016 exemptions for Holly Frontier's Woods Cross and Cheyenne refineries, as well as CVR Energy's Wynewood refinery.

    The court ruled the EPA overstepped its authority and errored in granting the waivers because the refineries had not received exemptions in the previous year. The court said the RFS is worded in such a way that any exemption granted to a small refinery after 2010 must take the form of an "extension".

    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 (Source: Successful Farming, Various Media, Reuters, 25 Jan., 2020)

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


    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",  


    The finalized rule incorporates the Wheeler plan

    Date: 2019-12-31
    that merely estimates future small refinery waivers based on DOE recommendations, according to Iowa Corn Growers Association. ICGA supports a simple, mathematical solution by averaging the past three years of actual waivers granted, then adding those gallons back into the RFS. ICGA’s supported resolution would have created market certainty, so as not to rely on the EPA or DOE Administrators for their annual decisions. “Apparently President Trump doesn’t care about his promise to Iowa’s farmers. He had the opportunity to tell his EPA to stick to the deal that was made on Oct. 4,” said ICGA President Jim Greif. “I can say for certain that ICGA pushed for a positive outcome, and we didn’t go down without a fight.” “The Environmental Protection Agency seems to be more concerned with politics than cleaner-burning, healthy air with renewable fuels. It was as simple as following the original Oct. 4 agreement with our elected officials and here we are with empty promises and no market certainty,” said Kelly Nieuwenhuis, ICGA member from Primghar and Chair of the Iowa Corn Industrial Usage and U.S. Production committee. During the comment period for the supplemental rule, ICGA sent out two calls to action with one directed at the EPA and the other at the President. Altogether the calls to action gathered over 1,000 farmer comments. Additionally, ICGA held a press conference along with other biofuels groups, worked with our entire delegation of public leaders, as well as attended roundtables, townhall meetings and EPA’s public hearing in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The final push was a meeting by ICGA with the director of the U.S. National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, at the White House earlier this week. (Source: High Plains Journal, 29 Dec. 2019)


    White House Confirms 2020 Biofuel RVO Plan (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2019-12-20
    Reuters is reporting the Trump administration plans to stick with its proposed 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) biofuel blending requirements as proposed in October, despite the farming sector's complaint that the plan does too little for corn growers.

    Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) oil refiners are required to blend some 15 billion gpy of corn-based ethanol into their gasoline, but small facilities can be exempted if compliance would hurt them financially.

    The October proposal was intended to placate corn growers and compensate the biofuel industry for the administration's expanded use of refinery exemptions, but which the industry has largely panned as insufficient, according to Reuters. The EPA's October plan would raise the biofuels volumes that some refineries must blend in 2020 based on DOE recommendations for volumes that should be exempted.

    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: Reuters, Various Media, 19 Dec., 2019)

    For details see our Oct. 21 report as follows -- Proposed Volumes for 2020 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2021. The Trump administration EPA has issued the attached supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking seeking additional comment on the recently proposed rule to establish the cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel volumes for 2020 and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2021 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

    The notice does not change the proposed volumes for 2020 and 2021. Instead, it proposes and seeks comment on adjustments to the way that annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. Annual renewable fuel percentage standards are used to calculate the number of gallons each obligated party is required to blend into their fuel or to otherwise obtain renewable identification numbers (RINs) to demonstrate compliance.

    Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on projecting the volume of gasoline and diesel that will be exempt in 2020 due to small refinery exemptions based on a three-year average of the relief recommended by the BOE, including where DOE had recommended partial exemptions. The agency intends to grant partial exemptions in appropriate circumstances when adjudicating 2020 exemption petitions. The agency proposes to use this value to adjust the way it calculates renewable fuel percentages. The proposed adjustments would help ensure that the industry blends the final volumes of renewable fuel into the nation's fuel supply and that, in practice, the required volumes are not effectively reduced by future hardship exemptions for small refineries. Consistent with the statute, the supplemental notice seeks to balance the goal of the RFS of maximizing the use of renewables while following the law and sound process to provide relief to small refineries that demonstrate the need.

    Download the Renewable Fuel Standard Program -- Proposed Volumes for 2020 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2021 HERE. Contact: EPA Renewable Fuel Standard, 800-385-6164, www.epa.gov/fuels-registration-reporting-and-compliance-help/forms/fuels-program-helpdesk

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


    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 ,  


    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,  


    Corn Growers Praise, Plead Trump for RFS Action (Ind. Report)
    Trump
    Date: 2019-09-30
    In a recent letter to Pres. Donald Trump, corn grower organizations in 23 states called on the President to direct his administration's EPA to account for projected waivers beginning with the pending 2020 RFS volume rule and to simply uphold the law.

    "Dear President Trump,

    "We are writing on behalf of the more than 300,000 corn farmers across the country who are being negatively impacted by a perfect storm of challenges in rural America. The 31 new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers to big oil companies, recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and bringing total waivers issued under your Administration to 85, could not have come at a worse time for agriculture.

    "Ethanol plants in several states, including Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota and Mississippi have closed or idled. These closures have cost 2,700 rural jobs and impacted demand for more than 300 million bushels of corn. Corn farmers are beginning harvest and continuing to lose markets to deliver their corn. Frustration in the countryside is growing.

    "Corn farmers are not asking for a special deal. We are simply asking, as we have been for the past two years, that your EPA uphold the law. To effectively stop the harm caused by RFS waivers, EPA needs to account for projected waivers beginning with the pending 2020 RFS volume rule. Accounting for waivers in the annual RFS volume process restores integrity to the RFS. It also allows your Administration to continue granting waivers, as allowed by the law, while keeping the RFS whole."

    "While adding gallons and improving market access for higher blends of ethanol are all policies farmers appreciate and support, future waivers will continue to minimize the RFS, unless your Administration acts to account for waivers beginning this coming year first.

    "We were pleased to see press reports indicating that, following a meeting with farm-state lawmakers, an agreement had been reached to address the harm caused by waivers. With more than 4 billion gallons waived out of the RFS, we appreciate you listening to our elected representatives about what is needed to restore meaning to the RFS. Farmers across the country are anxiously awaiting the release of more details about this agreement. Ethanol plants will continue to close if you don't act soon, creating a rippling effect throughout the rural economy.

    "Corn farmers are appreciative of your past support for agriculture and ethanol. We especially appreciate your efforts to remove the barrier to year-round sales of E15, but EPA's current use of waivers undermines growth potential for higher blends of ethanol, reduces demand, lowers the value of our crop, and puts the outlook for the rural economy in jeopardy.

    "Mr. President, we firmly ask that you uphold your commitment to America's farmers and the RFS." (Source: Ag Ohio, Various Trade Media, Sept., 2019)

    Editor's Note: For our reader's convenience, we have underlined the few lines that actually call on Trump to honestly do his job and uphold the RFS. The remaining five paragraph's are, in our opinion, little more than flattery to the White House.

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump,  "Hardship" Waivers,  Corn Ethanol,  


    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,  


    Grassley Comments on EPA "Hardship" Waivers -- Notable Quote
    EPA,Chuck Gressley
    Date: 2019-09-18
    "We want 15 billion gallons to be 15 billion gallons -- so that means basically you can waive all you want to waive for small refineries, just make sure we get 15 billion gallons." -- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R--Iowa) commenting of the Trump EPA's RFS "hardship" waivers. (Source: Iowa Radio, EnergyAg Wired, 18 Sept., 2019) Contact: Sen. Chuck Grassley, www.grassley.senate.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Chuck Grassley,  RFS,  "Hardship" waivers,  Ethanol,  


    Siouxland Energy Shuttering Iowa Ethanol Plant (Ind. Report)
    Siouxland Energy ,Plymouth Energy
    Date: 2019-09-16
    In the wake of Plymouth Energy's ethanol plant shutdown in August, Siouxland Energy, a farmer-owned cooperative in Sioux Center, Iowa, is reporting its board of directors has "decided to halt production."

    The shutdown is being blamed on the Trump Administration's waivers so ethanol doesn't have to be blended in gasoline produced at what the board said were "many large oil refineries." According to Siouxland Energy, the actions have "unfairly" benefited the oil industry at the expense of farmers and, "if not addressed soon, will impact the livelihoods of many." (Source: Siouxland Energy, Des Moines Register, 16 Sept., 2019)Contact: Siouxland Energy Cooperative, 712-722-4904, www.siouxlandenergy.com; Plymouth Energy, 712-938-2373, www.plymouth-energy.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Siouxland Energy,  Plymouth Energy,  Ethanol,  


    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,  


    Trump Asked to Honor RFS Pledge (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    NBB,National Biodiesel Board
    Date: 2019-09-11
    "DearMr.President,

    "We are writing to express dismay at your recent decision to grant 31 waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Plainly stated, that decision is putting U.S.biodiesel producers out of business and worsening the year's outlook for soy farmers. And while you have expressed concern to save small petroleum refineries, you should also understand that small U.S. biodiesel producers need a positive signal.

    "Within a week of your decision on the 31 waivers, one U.S. biodiesel producer announced plans to close three plants -- in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Mississippi. Other producers have announced closings and laid off workers. More than 200 million gallons of domestic biodiesel production has been idled this year, due to instability in federal policy. We anticipate that additional facilities will close over the next several months if you do not take quick action to restore RFS volumes for biodiesel and renewable diesel.

    "Every small refinery waiver issued by the EPA has the potential to put a U.S.biodiesel producer out of business. A small oil refiner processing 75,000 barrels of oil per day can produce nearly 1 billion gallons of fuel in a year. The RFS program requires that oil refiner blend about 20 million gallons of biodiesel or renewable diesel during the year -- a very small fraction of overall fuel production. However, there are dozens of biodiesel producers who produce 20 million gallons of fuel or less each year; three-fifths of U.S. producers are small, non-integrated facilities.

    Small refinery waivers destroy demand for all biofuels across the board, with a significant impact on domestic biodiesel and renewable diesel producers. According to University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin, the exemptions especially harm biodiesel and renewable diesel producers because of the way the RFS is constructed. The 1.4 billion gallons of renewable fuel eliminated from the 2018 RFS through the 31 waivers includes hundreds of millions of gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel in the biomass-based diesel, advanced and overall volumes.

    "The small refinery exemptions are compounding the policy headwinds our industry is facing. Biodiesel producers have waited more than 20 months for Congress to address expired tax incentives. Additionally, your U.S. Department of Commerce is proposing to virtually eliminate countervailing duties on unfairly subsidized Argentine biodiesel. Those duties were put in place to counteract years' worth of unfair trade practices by Argentina. Soy farmers have faced closed markets, depressed crop prices, and weather-related challenges. Those forces have reduced soy planting by 15 percent for the current marketing year. Biodiesel is a value-added market driver for America's soybeans, at a time when markets have been shut or diminished.

    "The biodiesel industry continues to rely on the RFS to incentivize growth. Biodiesel and renewable diesel can be used in any existing diesel engine without special equipment for blending or dispensing. Producers therefore rely on a positive signal and support from federal programs to continue opening the transportation market to higher volumes.

    "Biodiesel producers and soy farmers rely on the RFS program. Growth in the biodiesel market is the only way to keep domestic producers operating and protect U.S. workers' jobs. Unfortunately, EPA is proposing zero growth for biomass-based diesel. We have asked the agency to do two things: first, properly account for the small refinery exemptions handed out over the past few years and going forward; and second, provide growth in the biomass-based diesel market for 2020 and 2021.

    "We ask that you continue to support the RFS and save small biodiesel producers. (signed) National Biodiesel Board (NBB)" (Source: NBB, 9 Sept., 2019) Contact: NBB, Donnell Rehagen, CEO, Kurt Kovarik, VP Federal Affairs, (800) 841-5849, www.biodiesel.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News NBB,  Biodiesel,  RFS,  


    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,  


    Notable Quote
    POET, EPA
    Date: 2019-08-30
    "The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was designed to increase the use of clean, renewable biofuels and generate grain demand for farmers. Our industry invested billions of dollars based on the belief that oil could not restrict access to the market and EPA would stand behind the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Unfortunately, the oil industry is manipulating the EPA and is now using the RFS to destroy demand for biofuels, reducing the price of commodities and gutting rural economies in the process." -- Jeff Broin, CEO, POET Contact: POET, Jeff Broin, CEO., (605) 965-2200, www.poet.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News POET,  EPA,  "Hardship" Waivers,  RFS,  


    POET Idling Cloverdale Corn Ethanol plant (Ind. Report)
    POET, EPA
    Date: 2019-08-30
    Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based ethanol producer POET reports it is idling its Clverdale, Indiana bioprocessing facility due the EPA's policies on RFS "hardship" waivers. The shutdown will take several weeks after which time the plant, which normally processes 30 million bpy, will stop processing corn for ethanol production.

    POET already has cut production at half of its biorefineries with the biggest impact being felt at its Iowa and Ohio plants where corn processing will drop by an additional 100 million bushels. (Source: POET, The Messenger, 29 Aug., 2019) Contact: POET, Jeff Broin, CEO, (605) 965-2200, www.poet.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News POET,  EPA,  "Hardship" Waivers,  RFS,  


    Sonny Says Trump Will Take Action on Ethanol Waivers -- Whatever That Means? (Ind. Report)
    RFS,Sonny Perdue
    Date: 2019-08-30
    Speaking Wednesday in Decatur, Illinois -- corn country -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said President Trump will "take action to soften the effects of oil refinery exceptions for blending corn-based ethanol in motor fuel." It is "disappointing" that the Trump EPA granted the waivers, Sec. Perdue added.

    Perdue either couldn't or wouldn't say what action the president will or might take, but noted that Trump believes the EPA waivers were "way overdone." Ethanol advocates contend that oil refinery waivers have reduced ethanol production by 2.6 billion gallons since Trump moved into the White House.

    When grilled on the Trump administration's biofuels, trade and Renewable Fuel Standard and related policies Perdue replied "EPA will continue to consult with our federal partners on the best path forward to ensure stability in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The president will always seek to engage with stakeholders to achieve wins for the agriculture and energy sectors." So sayeth Sonny!(Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, CBS, Various Media, 28 Aug., 2019) Contact: Office of US Sec of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, (202) 720-2791, feedback@oc.usda.gov, www.usda.gov, twitter.com/SecretarySonny

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


    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,  


    More RFS "Hardship" Waivers! (Ind. Report)
    EPA,American Soybean Association
    Date: 2019-08-26
    On Friday the 23rd, the EPA announced it was granting 31 more Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) "hardship" waivers -- a whopping 31 of 38 total Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) applications for the 2018 compliance year.

    In July, EPA announced biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels volumes for 2021 will remain stagnant but again failed to account for the significant gallons lost because of SRE, which makes the proposed volume, in effect, a reduction for biofuels.

    The waivers announced Friday evening combined with those issued for 2016 and 2017 RFS volumes brings the total number to more than 80 retroactive waivers, which significantly reduces biodiesel demand and results in billions of dollars in economic harm to the U.S. biodiesel industry, including soybean farmers.

    Kentucky soybean grower and American Soybean Association (ASA) president Davie Stephens responded to the latest round saying "Of course ASA is unhappy. These exemptions undermine President Trump's pledge to support the RFS and undermine the Administration's efforts to support farmers who are already bearing the brunt of trade disruptions. EPA's decision is another blow to yet another market for soybean farmers." (Source: American Soybean Association, Daily American, Various Media, 26 Aug., 2019) Contact: American Soybean Association, Dave Stephens, Pres., (314) 576-1770, www.soygrowers.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA,  "Hardship" Waivers,  American Soybean Association,  


    Trump Ups RFS Biofuels Quota to Placate Farm States (Ind Report)
    Trump. EPA
    Date: 2019-08-26
    Bloomberg is reporting President "The Donald" Trump, seeking to avoid political fallout in U.S. farm states essential to his re-election, last week ordered federal agencies to change, or simply rescind, many of the 80 or more recently issued "hardship" waivers relieving some oil refineries of requirements to use biofuel such as corn-based ethanol.

    Trump and his team have since apparently decided they wouldn't, or couldn't make changes to just-issued waivers without risking the wrath of the oil companies, which may also be crucial to his reelection plans. And so, to resolve his self inflicted predicament, Trump has ordered a boost in biofuels quotes to make up for expected exemptions beginning in 2021. In other wards, The Donald is trying to cover his political butt while siding with the farmers and at the same time ignoring his previous commitments to the ethanol sector.

    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: Bloomberg, 26 Aug., 2019)

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


    Notable Quotes -- Iowa Congresswoman Axne calls for EPA "Hardship" Waivers Investigation

    Date: 2019-08-23
    "I remember hearing the president say that he's the best thing that happened to farmers, as a matter of fact, that's a joke, he's creating problems that are hurting our farming community."

    "What we're seeing with this administration is a dogged approach to allow the biggest fossil fuel players an opportunity to put more money back into the pockets of their large shareholders and take that money from the pockets of hard-working farmers right here in Iowa ... making sure that we protect the ethanol industry and stop issuing these waivers that aren't needed, that are unnecessary and don't benefit anybody but these large fossil fuel companies." -- Congresswoman Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) (Source: KMTV Omaha, 21 Aug., 2019) Contact: Congresswoman Cindy Axne, www.axne.house.gov

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