August 30, 2019—In formal comments submitted today in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed 2020 renewable volume obligations, the Renewable Fuels Association called on the EPA to follow the law and make up for the lost blending volumes resulting from the numerous secretive refinery waivers granted by the agency.
“There is every reason to expect that the continued abuse of the system for granting small refinery exemptions will render the 2020 volumes meaningless again, given that the agency just approved an additional 31 small refinery exemptions without a transparent demonstration of severe economic harm,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper wrote. “Issuing small refinery exemptions after an RVO rule is finalized—as EPA has now done for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 compliance years—has the practical impact of reducing the effective RVOs to levels well below those specified in the rule.”
In its comments, RFA calls on the EPA to address this problem and ensure that the 2020 RVOs are administered in a manner consistent with the statute simply by accounting for small refinery exemptions when it calculates the percentage standards, as has been recommended during the interagency review process for two consecutive years.
In fact, Cooper noted, the formula used by EPA for calculating the annual percentage standards has always included a variable for “projected volume[s]” of gasoline and diesel for exempt small refineries, and EPA has in fact included non-zero values for these variables in past RVO rules. “Failing to include a non-zero projection of exempted gasoline and diesel from small refineries after the EPA has granted large-scale exemptions for three straight years defies reality and is a flagrant abuse of the Agency’s waiver authorities under the program,” he said.
Finally, Cooper wrote, EPA’s proposal “makes a mockery” of the 2017 federal court decision in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA, by refusing to add back 500 million gallons of renewable fuel the court determined were inappropriately waived by EPA. “RFA strongly urges the EPA to include the 500 million gallons in the final 2020 RVO, as required by the court.”