Late last night, the Environmental Protection Agency approved three small refinery exemptions (SRE), reversing one denial from 2018 and granting two for the 2019 compliance year. The EPA granted two 2019 exemptions, which would erase another 150 million gallons of renewable fuel demand. In addition, the agency also appears to have reversed a 2018 petition that was initially denied, resulting in an additional loss of 110 million gallons of renewable volume blending.
National Corn Growers Association President John Linder said, “It shouldn’t be a surprise to those who have been paying attention for the last four years that this EPA would undermine corn farmers and the ethanol market on its way out the door. There is no reason for the EPA to take this action now, especially with the Supreme Court set to consider the Tenth Circuit ruling in the new term. Corn farmers need an EPA that will follow the law as written and intended by Congress. NCGA looks forward to working with the Biden Administration to rectify the harm caused by this EPA’s abuse of small refinery exemptions and restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
EPA’s action brings the total of SREs granted by the Trump Administration to 88, totaling 4.3 billion gallons of biofuel blending demand destroyed.
“This midnight-hour attempt by the Trump administration to damage the Renewable Fuel Standard and sabotage the ethanol industry’s recovery from the COVID pandemic simply cannot be allowed to prevail,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “With just hours remaining in his shameful term as EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler couldn’t stop himself from doling out a few more Clean Air Act compliance exemptions to his well-connected friends. But the fact remains that today’s action by EPA is completely without legal merit. It flouts both the statute and recent court decisions that clearly limit EPA’s authority and ability to grant these exemptions. And while this action comes as one last sucker punch from the Trump administration, we are confident it will be a hollow victory for the politically connected oil companies receiving today’s waivers, as the new Biden Administration will most certainly act quickly to restore the volumes erased by these waivers.”