EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt faced a grilling from agricultural reporters Tuesday about the agency granting waivers exempting refineries from Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations and why it is taking so long to decide on allowing year round use of 15% ethanol in all markets.
The embattled administrator, who faces Congressional hearings this week where he will likely be questioned on ethics issues, started off his conversation with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting by touting his agency’s accomplishments on behalf of farmers, including rescinding the Waters of the United States rule, and keeping the RFS on track by maintaining the statutory obligation of 15 billion gallons for ethanol.
Pruitt opening comments on RFS
Immediately questioned about the small refinery exemptions being granted that have been eroding the 15 billion gallon requirement, Pruitt responded that granting the exemptions is “not subjective in nature, it’s objective….We are constrained, we have a statutory criteria to make those decision.”
Pruitt comments on small refiner exemptions
Pruitt says the agency has “been actively reviewing the ability to grant an RVP waiver” to allow sales of E15 during the summer months, but was questioned about why it is taking so long. “This is not a matter of being dilatory, it’s a matter of being smart and thoughtful…what you don’t want is to make a decision and then have an avalanche of litigation,” said Pruitt, insisting that he has been pushing for months to get the waiver and he is optimistic about it.
Pruitt comments on RVP waiver consideration
Asked if the idea of capping the price of Renewable Identification Numbers was off the table, Pruitt evaded a direct answer. “To the degree RIN market is volatile….that volatility is not good for anyone…we need stability across the spectrum on RFS and that includes the RIN market as well.” He added that there are some things they could do administratively regarding transparency, since the trading platform was actually created by EPA under the broad interpretation of the law.
Pruitt comments on RIN price cap
The EPA administrator was also asked about the possibility of using high-octane ethanol to help meet CAFE standards and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and he called it a “tremendous idea” that he has already talked about with automobile manufacturers.
Pruitt comments on high octane ethanol