Members of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition today urged U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to drop the 52 retroactive “gap-year” RFS waivers requested recently by oil refiners. The Renewable Fuels Association thanked them for their effort.
“These governors have witnessed first-hand the significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. ethanol industry and know that now is not the time for EPA to give in to oil-industry demands and harm the rural American economy further,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The governors know the value of our members’ work in creating jobs and economic opportunity throughout the American heartland, and we thank them for their passion for this cause.”
The idea of retroactive refinery exemptions follows a recent decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected a set of waivers granted by EPA that were not simple extensions of prior waivers. The lawsuit was brought against EPA by RFA, the National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and the American Coalition for Ethanol.
Seeking to get around this court decision, several refineries have now applied for retroactive waivers for years in which they did not originally ask for, or receive, a waiver. On June 18, EPA disclosed that 52 new petitions had been received, covering the compliance years 2011 through 2018. In late May, RFA was the first to urge Wheeler to deny any gap-year waivers that came forward. Last week, a bipartisan group of 16 U.S. senators called on Wheeler to reject the waivers. Now, RFA noted, it’s good to see the governors agree on the urgency of the matter.
Representing the governors’ coalition on this effort are Govs. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska.
“Even before the coronavirus pandemic,” the governors wrote, “the misuse of small refinery waivers under the RFS caused a significant number of plants to partially or fully shut down. The resulting job losses, decreases in commodity purchases and prices, and shortages of co-products affect rural America every day. Your approval of these SRE ‘gap filings’ would only worsen unprecedented economic challenges facing the renewable fuels industry and rural communities.”