More details are emerging about what a final White House plan on the Renewable Fuel Standard may include, as Reuters reported on Friday that President Donald Trump is likely moving forward with a number of changes.
That reportedly includes issuing a temporary waiver to allow E15 sales year-round, to attach renewable identification numbers, or RINs, to exported ethanol, to reduce the number of small refinery waivers issued and to then take the gallons lost in waivers and obligate the volumes to larger refiners.
Scott Irwin, an agriculture economist at the University of Illinois, responded to the news with a series of tweets in response to the report.
On balance, he said the reported changes would be favorable to ethanol producers and agriculture.
More specifically, the idea about cutting back and reallocating gallons waived on behalf of small refiners is interesting. Especially when you consider the EPA has been doing so anyway, taking this step is not all that complicated.
Irwin said in a tweet on Friday he believes the potential action being taken on small refinery waivers points to an effort to slow down the pace of granting those waivers. It doesn't necessarily mean the agency will go back and rescind waivers already granted.
In the past two years the agency has granted about 40 such waivers, and reportedly received at least another 30 for 2018.
In a tweet Irwin said he interprets the "temporary" aspect of lifting the E15 season ban as a sign the agency continues to be concerned about the legality of granting a permanent waiver.
"I suspect 'temporary' is key for now as that is more doable from a legal standpoint," Irwin tweeted.
"Also proposing to count RINs on ethanol exports for RFS compliance. This is so obviously illegal under the RFS and last summer's appeals court ruling that I can only conclude they thought they had to give something to the refiners.
"I have been skeptical from the outset that so many small refinery exemptions could have been granted in such a short time with the proper paperwork. Making this case according to clear court guidelines is no simple thing. This is one reason I have inferred that EPA and its supporters have been so opposed to transparency on this issue."
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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