In a letter today, America’s top biofuel and farm advocates called on the Environmental Protection Agency to offer answers on a new effort to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard. During a Senate hearing last month, administration officials confirmed their consideration of retroactive small refinery exemptions (SREs) covering previous years. The “gap-filings” are designed to reconstitute a continuous string of exemptions for select oil companies “to be consistent with the Tenth Circuit decision,” thus circumventing court limits on new oil industry handouts at the expense of farmers and biofuel producers.
The letter states, “This attempt to circumvent the courts and the RFS should be rejected out of hand. Even if EPA granted retroactive “gap” exemptions without simultaneously returning the number of RINs associated with the exemption to the petitioner, such exemptions would be inconsistent with EPA’s own policies and regulations, legal precedent, and Congressional intent.”
“These ‘gap filings’ appear to be little more than the latest in a string of oil industry tactics designed to subvert the law and sidestep a court order to uphold the RFS,” wrote the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the National Biodiesel Board, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, the National Farmers Union, the American Coalition for Ethanol, and Fuels America.
“The biofuels industry has been hit especially hard by the sharp decline in fuel demand across the country, as residents follow local, state, and federal guidance to practice social distancing and minimize travel,” added biofuel and farm advocates. “Over 100 biofuel plants fully idled or cut production, with ripple effects negatively impacting agricultural commodity prices, farmers, and the food supply chain. EPA inaction on court orders and prolonged SRE uncertainty continue to stifle investment in American biofuels and destabilize agricultural markets. Backfilling SREs to circumvent a court decision would exacerbate market uncertainty at a time when rural communities already face unprecedented economic challenges.”
A copy of the full letter and a list of signers is available here.