WASHINGTON — By failing to remedy the harm done by Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent actions on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), today’s proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 2019 RFS blending requirements dealt yet another blow to America’s farmers and ethanol producers, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
On the surface, today’s EPA proposal ostensibly raises the total 2019 renewable volume obligation (RVO) by 3 percent over the 2018 requirement and maintains a 15-billion-gallon requirement for conventional biofuels like corn ethanol. However, due to EPA’s failure to stem the tide of small refinery waivers, its refusal to reallocate lost blending volumes, and its brazen repudiation of binding court decisions, RFA said today’s proposal is superficial and toothless and undermines President Trump’s commitment on the RFS.
“It would seem a hollow and cynical exercise to praise or thank EPA Administrator Pruitt for appearing to follow the statute with this proposed RVO,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “While we acknowledge that the implied 15-billion-gallon requirement for conventional biofuels like corn ethanol should, in theory, send a positive signal to the market, it comes with the backdrop of 1.6 billion gallons of demand destructed by illegal waivers to small refineries and no commitment that EPA is changing its approach to granting these exemptions. Thus, the proposal means nothing until EPA reallocates those lost gallons and sets forth a more transparent and rational process that assures small refinery waivers are not abused or granted unnecessarily. Unfortunately, over the past few days, Administrator Pruitt buckled yet again to pressure from the oil industry and removed language from this proposal that would have indicated the Agency’s interest in addressing what has clearly become an abused process. That’s not just wrong, it flies in the face of the President’s commitment to farmers and consumers across the country who support the increased use of renewable fuels,” according to Dinneen.
“This RVO proposal is a paean to missed opportunities for the sole purpose of benefiting the oil industry that continues to thwart the development of biofuels at every turn,” Dinneen continued. “The Agency missed the opportunity to address the flawed and opaque small refinery waiver process. It failed to address the court-ordered remand of 500 million gallons in forfeited demand from the 2016 RVO. And it once again missed an opportunity to address the disparate treatment of E10 and E15 with regard to volatility regulation. EPA needs to stop tilting to the whims of the oil industry in implementing the nation’s renewable fuel program, and work to create demand for ethanol, lowering prices at the pump for consumers and creating economic opportunities for farmers across the country,” stated Dinneen.
The agency proposed a total renewable fuel volume of 19.88 billion gallons (BG), of which 4.88 BG is advanced biofuel, including 381 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. That leaves, on paper, a 15 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol.