On April 6, 2018, a coalition of biofuel producers wrote to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) urging them to reach out to President Trump to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. EPA, under the direction of Administrator Scott Pruitt, recently provided a large oil refining company, Andeavor, with a hardship waiver. These waivers are typically given to small refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels per day that would suffer a “disproportionate economic hardship” from the costs of RFS compliance. Since Andeavor’s exemption was reported, Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices have fallen significantly, questions have arisen regarding the legality of such an exemption for a large company, and doubt has been cast onto the future stability of the RFS program.
The producers’ letter states:
Based on the data that has been made public about 2016 exemptions, IRFA estimates that the 25 exemptions for 2017 likely equate to over one billion gallons of demand destruction taken directly from the 15-billion-gallon RFS level for last year.
This represents an unprecedented attack on the RFS and the President’s commitment to defending the 15-billion-gallon level. The small refinery exemption provision of the RFS was clearly intended for small refiners who could prove disproportionate economic harm. Such waivers were, as one would expect, few and far between during the Bush and Obama Administrations. We are now seeing that Pruitt has weaponized the small refinery exemption provision in an effort to effectively render the RFS useless.
In addition to concern over Andeavor’s hardship waiver, the biofuel producers also request that the senators push the President to refuse any waiver or price cap on RINs and order Administrator Pruitt to approve year-round E15 sales, increasing the amount of RFS credits generated and driving price of RINs down.