ACE Urges EPA to Ditch Unwarranted RFS Waiver Petitions


SIOUX FALLS, SD – The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) request for comments on petitions received for a waiver for refiners from their blending obligations under the 2019 and 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA is not proposing to grant any of the waiver petitions but is rather seeking comment to “inform future decision-making.”

In ACE’s comments, CEO Brian Jennings highlighted the lack of merit behind the petitions from refiners, oil-state governors, and the National Wildlife Federation to waive the RFS and detailed how these requests fail to satisfy the statutory evidentiary requirements and precedent from 2008 and 2012 which require EPA to determine that the RFS itself must be proven to be the cause of “severe economic harm” to justify a waiver, not outside factors such as the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the primary argument made by the parties.

Jennings noted, “the pandemic-related shutdowns caused comparable economic harm to ethanol producers and virtually every other sector of the U.S. economy,” and further described the devastating impacts on the ethanol industry, mentioning ACE’s April 3 letter outlining three immediate steps EPA could have taken under the Trump administration to help curb the economic losses but ultimately did nothing.

ACE detailed the following topics in its comments to help inform future EPA decision-making regarding the RFS:

  • Existing precedent regarding the “severe economic harm” criteria in the general wavier authority compels EPA to reject recent waiver petitions because COVID-19 is the latest cause of economic harm.
  • RIN prices are not the cause of severe economic harm to these refineries and cannot be used as any justification to trigger the general waiver provision of the RFS.
  • Prior abuse of small refinery exemptions undermines arguments for general waivers.
  • The RFS reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, and EPA should replace its wildly outdated corn ethanol lifecycle analysis with the latest GREET model assumptions.

ACE’s full comments can be accessed here.