In response to a January letter sent by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Thune (R-S.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), EPA again confirmed that oil refiners aren’t negatively impacted by compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), stating that it stood by its previous conclusion that “all obligated parties, including merchant refiners, are generally able to recover the cost of the RINs they need for compliance with the RFS obligations through the cost of the gasoline and diesel fuel they produce.”
Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits were created as a voluntary alternative compliance mechanism for refineries that choose not to blend biofuels as required by law since 2006. In its response, EPA also reiterated that the agency led by Administrator Pruitt “was not persuaded by arguments that merchant refiners are put at a distinct disadvantage when compared to integrated refiners.”
Grassley, Thune, Blunt, Fischer and Ernst issued the following joint statement regarding the response letter from EPA, as well as further reports of EPA receiving applications for and in many cases granting “hardship” waivers meant for “small refiners” to multibillion dollar oil refining corporations.
“EPA’s response to our letter should put to bed any argument that the Renewable Fuel Standard is hurting small refiners. Every time Administrator Pruitt says that the Renewable Fuel Standard needs to be reformed, he’s arguing against his own EPA. All along, this has been nothing more than an attempt to expand market share by killing the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“Since EPA has concluded RIN credit prices aren’t hurting refiners, it makes no sense for the Administration to consider a cap or a waiver for the credits, which would devastate the farm economy and destroy the jobs of thousands of biofuels workers. Unfortunately, EPA’s push for a RIN cap or waiver is only one part of a broader attack on the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“Recent reports of EPA granting ‘hardship’ waivers meant for ‘small refiners’ to multibillion dollar oil refining corporations raise an embarrassing question. Is it the Administration’s position that companies making billions of dollars in profits are experiencing hardship?
“The problem with these secret waivers is that we have no way of knowing the justification. EPA is hiding behind poor excuses about proprietary business information to shield big oil companies from public scrutiny. Topline information about the companies that received the waivers and why they were granted should be publicly available. This looks like just another backdoor attempt by Administrator Pruitt to destroy the Renewable Fuel Standard and circumvent congressional intent.
“It appears these waivers are being issued retroactively, effectively gutting the overall renewable volume obligations assigned to refiners. If these waivers weren’t approved by the White House, that means Administrator Pruitt is going behind President Trump’s back to break the president’s repeated pledge to support a 15 billion gallon annual volume obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“It’s not only unfair to refiners who follow the law of the land, but to all the farmers and biofuels workers across the country who are counting on President Trump to keep his word. These waivers aren’t getting too much attention nationally, but the farmers we talk to in our home states are upset with EPA about this issue.
“President Trump’s announcement that he will direct EPA to allow the sale of E15 year-round is welcome news, but EPA’s practice of giving away secret hardship waivers to the country’s biggest oil refining companies needs to stop.”
In a Senate Appropriations agriculture subcommittee hearing on April 11, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told Blunt he agrees with concerns outlined in an April 9 letterfrom the senators to President Trump that EPA is misusing secret “hardship” waivers to exempt some of the country’s largest oil refining corporations from complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard. “I concur with your opinion,” Perdue said. “As you know, we have a statutory volume of 15 billion gallons, and those waivers reduce that gallon for gallon…That is demand destruction.”