August 9, 2019 – Calling it a significant broken promise on the part of President Trump that will hurt rural America at the worst possible time, the Renewable Fuels Association strongly criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement late Friday that granted 31 more exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard to oil refineries, representing 1.43 billion gallons of additional lost RFS demand. This comes after 54 exemptions were given for the prior two years, with not a single waiver request denied. In today’s announcement, only six requests were denied.
“At a time when ethanol plants in the Heartland are being mothballed and jobs are being lost, it is unfathomable and utterly reprehensible that the Trump Administration would dole out more unwarranted waivers to prosperous petroleum refiners,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Today’s announcement comes as a total shock, as just two months ago President Trump himself heard directly from Iowa farmers and ethanol plant workers about the disastrous economic impacts of these small refinery handouts. In response, he told us he would ‘look into it’ and we believed that would lead to the White House and EPA finally putting an end to these devastating waivers. Instead, the Trump administration chose to double down on the exemptions, greatly exacerbating the economic pain being felt in rural America and further stressing an industry already on life support.
“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that small refineries are suffering ‘disproportionate economic harm’ due to the RFS, meaning the entire EPA decision-making process is a sham. Making matters worse, the process remains cloaked in secrecy and bias, and there is mounting evidence that the administration is continuing to grant full exemptions against the recommendations of the Department of Energy—and even against the advice of some EPA officials.”
RFA noted that 13 ethanol plants have recently shut down—three of them permanently—due in large part to the demand loss resulting from the administration’s abusive exploitation of the small refiner waivers.
“Ethanol demand has fallen and prices have plummeted to their lowest values in more than a decade,” Cooper said. “When operating, the 13 plants that recently shut down bought nearly 300 million bushels of corn and supported more than 2,400 jobs in rural communities from Iowa and Minnesota to Mississippi and Virginia. Who will tell those workers and their families that the demands of Big Oil are more important to this administration than the livelihood of rural America?
“Neil Armstrong spoke of his setting foot on the moon as one small step for man and a giant leap for mankind. EPA, by allowing year-round sales of E15 at the end of May, gave the ethanol industry one small step forward. But now, with EPA’s decision to grant these small refinery exemptions, we have one giant leap – backwards.”