EPA refiner waivers are a "broken promise that will haunt rural America" – RFA
Calling it a significant broken promise on the part of President Trump that will hurt rural America at the worst possible time, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) strongly criticized the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement August 9, 2019, that granted 31 more exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to oil refineries, representing 1.43 billion (US) gallons (≈ 5.41 billion litres) of additional lost RFS demand.
According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), this comes after 54 exemptions were given for the prior two years, with not a single waiver request denied while only six requests were denied this time around.
At a time when ethanol plants in the Heartland are being mothballed and jobs are being lost, it is unfathomable and utterly reprehensible that the Trump Administration would dole out more unwarranted waivers to prosperous petroleum refiners, said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper.
Cooper described the EPA announcement as a “total shock”.
Just two months ago President Trump himself heard directly from Iowa farmers and ethanol plant workers about the disastrous economic impacts of these small refinery handouts. In response, he 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. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that small refineries are suffering ‘disproportionate economic harm’ due to the RFS, meaning the entire EPA decision-making process is a sham. Making matters worse, the process remains cloaked in secrecy and bias, and there is mounting evidence that the administration is continuing to grant full exemptions against the recommendations of the Department of Energy—and even against the advice of some EPA officials, said Cooper.
RFA noted that 13 ethanol plants have recently shut down—three of them permanently—due in large part to the demand loss resulting from the administration’s “abusive exploitation” of the small refiner waivers.
Ethanol demand has fallen and prices have plummeted to their lowest values in more than a decade. When operating, the 13 plants that recently shut down bought nearly 300 million bushels of corn and supported more than 2 400 jobs in rural communities from Iowa and Minnesota to Mississippi and Virginia. Who will tell those workers and their families that the demands of Big Oil are more important to this administration than the livelihood of rural America? Cooper asked.
Cooper conceded that by allowing year-round sales of E15 at the end of May 2019, the EPA gave the ethanol industry “one small step forward” alluding to the 50-year celebrations of NASA’s moon landing with Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man and a giant leap for mankind”.
But now, with EPA’s decision to grant these small refinery exemptions, we have one giant leap – backwards, ended Geoff Cooper.