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Ethanol Industry, Lawmakers Push for RFS Improvements in Biden Administration

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Ethanol groups and Democratic lawmakers are pressing the incoming Biden administration to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard. (DTN file photo)

With a recent report the EPA is set to approve at least some of the 32 pending 2019 requests for small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard, a new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association positions the ethanol industry as part of the solution to cutting carbon emissions on day one of the incoming Biden administration.

Simply put, the RFA said emissions could be cut by about 10.7 million metric tons by EPA rejecting 66 pending SRE requests across multiple years, and by another 1.2 million metric tons by the agency implementing a 2017 court order to restore 500 million gallons to the RFS.

Earlier this week Reuters reported the Trump administration was considering granting at least some SREs for 2019.

RFA President and Chief Executive Officer Geoff Cooper lambasted the idea.

"If the rumors are true, this action would establish a new low for an administration whose track record on the RFS is already horribly and shamefully blemished," he said in a statement.

"One has to wonder if Administrator (Andrew) Wheeler and other senior political appointees at EPA and DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) are doing favors to refiners in hopes of getting cushy job offers from the oil companies upon leaving the EPA. There is absolutely no legal or policy justification whatsoever for granting these exemptions. We are confident that if EPA actually goes through with this, the incoming Biden administration will act swiftly to reallocate the volumes erased by these waivers."


On Tuesday, Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth, Illinois; Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota; Tina Smith, Minnesota; Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin; Debbie Stabenow, Michigan; and Richard J. Durbin, Illinois; asked the incoming Biden administration in a letter, to take a number of key actions on the RFS.

That includes directing the EPA to adopt a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, and to "swiftly reject" any pending and future petitions for small-refinery exemptions that do not meet standards set by the court.

"Under the last administration, the intent of SREs was grossly abused when multi-billion-dollar companies, like ExxonMobil and Chevron, were provided these waivers," the letter said.

The senators also asked the Biden administration to quickly publish the renewable volume obligations in the RFS for 2021, as well as approve pending applications for RFS pathways for corn kernel fiber ethanol, as well as update EPA's biofuels emissions modeling.

"The agency's failure to approve these applications is discouraging investment and impacting the ability of these fuels to be commercialized," the letter said.

In addition, the senators ask the incoming administration to include biofuels in a reaffirming of commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.

"We strongly support your administration's goal of addressing the climate crisis and supporting our nation's farmers," the senators said.

"Ending the policy abuses that were prevalent during the outgoing administration early on in your term will help to renew commitments to rural communities and drive economic resiliency in the heartland."

Read the RFA's analysis here:…

Read the senators' letter here:…

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