The oil refining industry’s latest attempt to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard should be rejected immediately, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper stated in a letter today to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The RFA letter, which responds to RFS waiver requests from five oil state governors, reminds EPA that a waiver may only be granted if petitioners can show that “economic harm” is “severe” in nature and is a direct result of the RFS, not some other factor.
“We are skeptical the letters you received even rise to the level of a petition that would necessitate the opening of a docket and solicitation of public comment,” Cooper wrote. “They fail miserably to make any defensible demonstration that the RFS itself is the sole source of ‘severe economic harm’ in their states.”
Cooper noted that the same harms cited by the oil-state governors have also been experienced by ethanol producers across rural America in the last six weeks, resulting in a 45 percent reduction in demand, a 47 percent drop in production, lost jobs, and economic instability across the Midwest. “The oil state request to waive the RFS is nothing more than a cynical gambit to capitalize on the public health tragedy of COVID-19. It’s a veiled attempt to achieve the refining sector’s long-standing goal of undermining the success of renewable fuels and protecting their chokehold on the nation’s fuel market.”
There is simply no reason to abandon the RFS, the nation’s most successful effort to promote clean-burning, homegrown, low-cost renewable fuels, Cooper concluded. Further destroying renewable fuel demand by vacating RFS requirements would unnecessarily, callously, and illegally exacerbate the economic harm already being inflicted on farmers and ethanol producers.
The letter concluded by stating, “EPA must abide by the statute. It must require any party seeking a general waiver to provide data and concrete evidence demonstrating that: 1) the RFS itself is the cause of economic harm to a state (i.e., not to individual refiners); 2) that the harm is ‘severe’ in nature; and 3) that a waiver would redress the harm. The letters sent to you by these five governors fail to satisfy any of those requirements and should not be considered ‘petitions.’ The Agency should immediately reject this cynical effort by oil refiners to capitalize on our nation’s current public health and economic challenge.”