The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) claims White House documents show the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored Trump Administration recommendations on small refinery waivers. Documents obtained by the association apparently show the EPA ignored strong recommendations from within the Trump Administration to redistribute Renewable Fuel Standard blending obligations lost to small refinery exemptions in the proposed rule for 2020 volumes. According to the documents, which detail the White House Office of Management and Budget’s interagency review of the 2020 RVO proposal, some reviewers within the administration raised concerns about EPA’s failure to redistribute exempted biofuel blending volumes to non-exempt parties. The documents recommended that EPA include prospective redistribution of waived volumes in the 2020 proposal and suggested a method for addressing a court order to restore 500 million gallons of blending obligations inappropriately waived in 2016.
RFA President and CEO, Geoff Cooper, says it’s not a surprise that President Trump felt misled regarding the waivers and ethanol demand.
“Our industry had certainly been communicating to the White House that if these exemptions continue to be granted, you’re going to stir up a lot of anger and anxiety in farm country. We certainly know that Secretary Perdue had been carrying that message forward. But I also know the President had been hearing that these waivers really don’t mean anything to ethanol demand. If that advice was in fact given, it was misleading advice.”
Cooper says at least 15 ethanol plants have now shut down or idled since EPA began its “refiner bailout bonanza” last year, and more than 2,500 jobs have been affected. He says the recent EPA claim there is “zero evidence” the waivers cause harm in farm country, is absurd.
“That statement was ludicrous. And in fact, it was insulting to our industry for EPA to somehow suggest that waiving billions of gallons of RFS requirements is not negatively impacting our industry. On the same day EPA said that ,we had two more ethanol producers announcing that they are shutting their plants down.”
2020 election politics may be at play, as some reports suggests Trump is trying to keep his base of supporters in farm country, specifically in Iowa, a top biofuel producing state and an important state politically. Cooper says there are many rumors about what options were discussed during the Trump meeting. He points out two quick actions the President has available.
“Make a commitment right now that when that 2020 final rule comes out, it includes prospective reallocation of any exempted volumes. Number two is, two years ago DC district court told EPA, ‘hey, you screwed the ethanol industry out of 500 million gallons in 2016, you owe that to them, give it back.'”
Officials say reallocating volumes, moving to an E15 standard over E10, among other proposals, were considered during the White House meeting.
Source: National Association of Farm Broadcasters