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Agriculture, Biofuels Groups Ask Trump to Fix Small-Refinery Exemptions Proposal

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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About 60 agriculture and biofuels groups asked President Donald Trump to fix the small-refinery exemption proposal from the EPA. (Photo by Todd Neeley)

If President Donald Trump has been unaware a recent proposal from the EPA to account for small-refinery exemptions isn't setting right with rural American interests, he may soon be aware after a large group of agriculture and biofuels interests asked Trump in a letter to fix the proposal.

Agriculture and biofuels interests were upset with the agency's proposal, claiming it falls short of a deal announced by Trump. The proposal calls for accounting for 770 million gallons of biofuels forecast to be lost to waivers, falling short by half the number of gallons actually exempted by the agency from 2016 to 2018.

In a letter to Trump on Monday, about 60 groups asked the president to fix the small-refinery exemptions issue.

"With farmers facing a multi-year decline in income, we enthusiastically supported the administration's commitment in September to restore the integrity of the RFS by accurately accounting for volumes lost to RFS small-refinery exemptions starting in 2020," the letter said.

"Unfortunately, the proposal released by the Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 15 would not accurately account for SREs and fails in its mission to reinvigorate farm economies and reopen biofuel plants across America's heartland. The flawed proposal swaps out a critical component of the SRE remedy sought by farmers and the biofuels industry. Instead of recovering the gallons exempted by EPA, it proposes to recover only those gallons previously recommended for exemption by the U.S. Department of Energy.

"This one EPA modification converts a commitment to fully account for SREs into a bureaucratically uncertain path that recovers only one fraction of those gallons lost to SREs and could result in RFS backsliding in 2020. This lack of certainty sabotages efforts toward market recovery and will stop biorefineries from reopening. We are also concerned about the increasingly narrow remedy offered by EPA to farmers and biofuel producers.

"The supplemental proposal contains none of the market access remedies sought and makes no commitment to recover gallons lost to SREs after 2020. From an investment perspective, the proposed rule offers little more than the promise of a partial one-year fix that may never materialize."

The groups said they need a fix that allows the industry to reopen biofuels plants closed in recent months, as a result of EPA's issuance of exemptions.

"We are asking for SRE accountability based on a rolling average of the actual volumes exempted by the EPA during the three most recently completed compliance years," the letter said. "This simple fix will provide the market and regulatory certainty necessary to bring back rural jobs and restore demand. The proposal –- as written –- will not provide the relief we believe you are seeking.

"While current markets are challenging for farmers and biofuel producers alike, we remain confident that we can forge a final rule that will produce real results. We look forward to the opportunity to ensure that the supplemental rule produces the results we are all seeking for rural America."

Read the letter here: https://files.constantcontact.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(TN)

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