The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency needs to take concrete steps immediately to support U.S. ethanol producers and rural America in these troubled times, according to testimony provided today by Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper to EPA’s Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Committee.
The EPA advisory committee is meeting today and tomorrow to provide independent policy advice, information and recommendations to the EPA administrator on a range of environmental issues and policies that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities.
As an appointed member of the EPA advisory committee, RFA Board Member Bill Pracht, of East Kansas Agri-Energy, is also participating in this week’s meeting.
The COVID-19 pandemic “has disrupted the U.S. economy in unprecedented ways and created significant uncertainty across rural America,” Cooper said in the testimony. “For the U.S. ethanol industry, that uncertainty has been greatly exacerbated by protracted delays and regulatory indecision related to the Renewable Fuel Standard. By disregarding statutory deadlines, flouting court decisions, and failing to make timely decisions, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency is undermining predictability and confidence in the renewable fuels market and abetting longtime opponents of the RFS who perpetually seek to destabilize the program.”
Cooper outlined five areas where EPA action has been delayed and needs to move forward. Specifically, he called on the agency to:
- adopt the recent Tenth Circuit Court decision (Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency) nationwide;
- deny all pending so-called “gap year” small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions;
- decide the 31 pending SRE petitions for 2019 and 2020 according to the Tenth Circuit Court criteria;
- publish the proposed rule for 2021 renewable volume obligations (RVOs); and
- as ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in ACEI v. EPA, restore the 500-million-gallon conventional renewable fuel volume that was illegally waived from the 2016 RFS requirements.
“Mother nature, international trade disputes, and a global pandemic have created a perfect storm that is wreaking havoc across Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and countless other Midwest states,” Cooper concluded. “Today, more than ever, farmers need the certainty and stability that the RFS was intended to provide.”