Biofuels Groups Rip EPA for More Small Refinery Waivers

Cindy Zimmerman

Much to the dismay of biofuels organizations, yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency approved five more 2017 Small Refinery Exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and noted that two more petitions have been received for 2018 exemptions, bringing the total to 39.

“It’s extremely disappointing and outrageous to see EPA once again allow oil refiners to undermine the RFS and hurt family farms, ethanol producers and our environment by exploiting and abusing a statutory provision that exempts them from their obligations to blend renewable fuels,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “RFA will continue to fight these exemptions through the courts and urge EPA to adopt a more judicious and restrained decision-making process on refiner exemptions, as well as restore lost volume obligations from previous years.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings pointed out the irony of EPA approving the SREs on National Agriculture Day “as farmers are long-suffering from lost market opportunities and low prices, and many farmer-owned ethanol plants across rural America are considering whether to suspend operations or sell out to a bigger company because of limited demand here at home, EPA has further depressed demand for ethanol by rubber stamping five more small Refinery Exemptions for 2017, and done so without reallocating the blending obligations to other refiners.”

National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik noted that the exemptions hurt biodiesel producers as well. “The 2017 volumes for biomass-based diesel were set at 2 billion gallons, well below the industry’s proven ability to produce fuels. Now, the retroactive small refinery exemptions for 2017 have cut the obligation by a total of 240 million gallons or 12 percent. Because they’re retroactive exemptions, the reduced demand for biomass-based diesel will hit our industry throughout 2019.”

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