EPA’s RFS Exemption “Denials” Set Good Precedent but Fail to Undo Trump Era Biofuel Demand Destruction

Contact: Cassidy Walter

JOHNSTON, IOWA – Today EPA announced the denial of 36 exemption requests from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for compliance year 2018 but simultaneously granted compliance relief for 31 refiners, meaning they do not have to comply with their 2018 RFS obligations. In response to today’s announcement, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“The silver lining is that EPA has reaffirmed the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling that EPA lacked the authority to grant the exemptions in the first place. This rationale should be immediately applied to the other 60-plus RFS exemption requests that remain pending without delay.

“Yet we must also be honest that today’s action by EPA grants 31 RFS exemptions in all but name. The unjustified use of RFS exemptions by the Trump EPA was called selling out our farmers by President Biden during the campaign, but now that demand destruction is allowed to stand. The bottom line is that today 31 refiners were released from their 2018 RFS obligations the same as had the exemptions been upheld.

“The EPA’s reasons for letting the refiners off the hook range from concerns about the RIN carryover balance to the 2018 compliance deadline having passed. However, nowhere in the RFS does Congress stipulate that EPA needs to care about the RIN carryover balance more than expanding the real-world use of biofuels. And if reopening past compliance actions is such a concern, then it is hard to understand why the same EPA is proposing reopening the finalized 2020 RFS rule to lower RFS blend levels. Only in D.C. would the wiggle words in this rule be considered logic.

“We appreciate this precedent going forward, but nothing today drives demand and we’re still facing the loss of E15 markets throughout the country on June 1st. We implore President Biden to take action to drive biofuels demand and to allow consumers the option of lower-cost E15 during this summer of high fuel prices.”

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association represents the state’s liquid renewable fuels industry and works to foster its growth. Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production with 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing 4.5 billion gallons annually – including 34 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity – and 11 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 410 million gallons annually. For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website at: www.IowaRFA.org.