The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a supplemental proposal regarding the 2020 Renewable Volume Obligation, seeking to ensure that the conventional renewable fuel standard is not eroded by small refinery exemptions. The following is a statement from Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper:
“If the Oct. 4 announcement from EPA was a big step forward, today’s supplemental proposal is a step backward. It falls short of delivering on President Trump’s pledge to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard and leaves farmers, ethanol producers, and consumers with more questions than answers. It is baffling to us that the proposal sets the three-year average of exempted volume using the very same DOE recommendations that EPA blatantly ignored over and over. We are concerned that the volume of actual exemptions granted in 2020 could very well exceed the amount of projected exemptions from DOE, putting us right back into the quagmire where the 15-billion-gallon requirement is eroded and undermined. Simply put, this proposal is not what was promised by the administration just over a week ago and fails to answer President Trump’s personal call for a stronger conventional biofuel requirement of more than 15 billion. It is our hope that President Trump will personally intervene again to get the RFS back on track and ensure his EPA honors the commitments that were made.”
Cooper pointed out that the Renewable Fuel Standard has specifically required 15 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuel each year since 2015. However, the massive increase in small refinery waivers means the actual volume enforced by EPA has fallen short of the requirement each year. After the exemptions, the conventional biofuel requirement for 2018, for example, was only 13.89 billion gallons. In their communications since the October 4 announcement, both President Trump and EPA Administration Andrew Wheeler have stressed their intention to ensure at least 15 billion gallons are actually blended domestically. It is unclear whether this proposal will actually ensure that volume is met.
Cooper said RFA will take every opportunity to ensure President Trump’s original deal is honored and will remain active and vocal during the public comment process.