A week and a half after announcing its intentions to offset a portion of the 4 billion gallons of demand for biofuels eliminated due to the ongoing misappropriation of small refinery exemptions, the EPA released a supplemental proposed rule outlining how it plans to do so. The proposed rule follows an announcement from President Donald Trump last week directing the EPA to follow the letter of the law and keep the Renewable Fuel Standard whole. Rather than basing relief on an actual three-year average of exempted gallons, as expected, the agency has instead suggested basing it on values recommended by the Department of Energy. The former would have increased the amount of biofuels in the transportation sector by approximately 1.35 billion gallons per year, while the latter will increase it by just 770 million gallons.
Corn farmers and agriculture groups were disappointed in the new ruling. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross said, “While corn farmers appreciate the EPA’s intent to follow Department of Energy recommendations on waivers going forward, the proposed rule fails to provide the assurance needed that EPA’s practices for granting waivers will change going forward. Farmers have long been skeptical of the EPA’s administration of the RFS. This proposal doesn’t provide farmers confidence in EPA’s ability to follow through and make this right. President Trump made a commitment to farmers and instructed the EPA to follow the law, but this proposal appears to come up short again.”
Even in the EPA’s press release, they reused old quotes from two weeks ago. With the new information, not everyone has the same praise for the most recent announcement — like Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “If the Oct. 4 announcement from EPA was a big step forward, today’s supplemental proposal is a step backward. It falls short of delivering on President Trump’s pledge to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard and leaves farmers, ethanol producers, and consumers with more questions than answers. It is baffling to us that the proposal sets the three-year average of exempted volume using the very same DOE recommendations that EPA blatantly ignored over and over. Simply put, this proposal is not what was promised by the administration just over a week ago and fails to answer President Trump’s personal call for a stronger conventional biofuel requirement of more than 15 billion.”
National Farmers Union Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew said, “We might not be surprised, but we are still gravely disappointed. Family farmers have been burned too many times by broken promises and half-hearted support. If this administration wants to earn back their trust, they must make the biofuels industry whole by accounting for all of the gallons lost to these exemptions.”