The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy filed a joint FOIA request Tuesday calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to release the names and locations of refineries granted exemptions from their Renewable Fuel Standard obligations.
RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper and Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor offered the following joint statement on the filing: “The public has a right to know which companies are receiving waivers from their Clean Air Act obligations and skirting requirements to blend cleaner, greener renewable fuels like ethanol. It is disingenuous for EPA to suggest that the names and locations of the exempted refineries constitute confidential business information, especially when the Agency itself has twice proposed to publicly disclose this information. We will not stop our efforts to bring transparency to this process until the shroud of secrecy has been lifted on the small refinery exemption program.”
The dispute centers on EPA’s refusal to provide certain basic information about refinery exemptions as requested by RFA and Growth Energy under the federal Freedom of Information Act. EPA incorrectly claims that even the names and locations of refineries receiving waivers are protected because they constitute “commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential.” But RFA and Growth Energy have simply requested the names and locations of the refineries petitioning for exemptions, not any commercial information or financial data that might otherwise be exempt from public disclosure under FOIA.
“Although EPA shares the aggregate number of exemptions it has decided to grant or deny, its withholding of the basic information regarding individual exemption decisions sought here has made it difficult or impossible for affected third parties (such as Plaintiffs) to challenge its exemption decisions,” RFA and Growth Energy state in the court filing. “EPA has relieved scores of refineries of their statutory compliance obligations without any public process, leaving Plaintiffs and other affected entities ‘without a viable avenue for judicial review.’”