GOP senators urge Wheeler to waive or reduce RFS requirements
A coalition of 15 Republican senators urged Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to use his authority under the Clean Air Act to “waive or significantly reduce the renewable fuel volume obligations (RVOs) on America’s refineries for the 2020 compliance year due to the drop in gasoline demand.”
“In 2005, when enacting the RFS, Congress provided the administrator of the EPA the authority to prevent this program from contributing to severe economic harm in a state, a region, or the nation,” the senators wrote.
“Since then, your predecessors have not found cause to use this authority. Whether prior petitions merited approval or not, there should be no doubt about the threat that the 2020 RVOs pose to our states’ economies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A failure to grant, in part or in whole, the governors’ petitions would render this provision within the Clean Air Act utterly meaningless. It would be a gross example of a federal agency nullifying an act of Congress.”
But American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings urged Wheeler to ignore the requests from the senators as well as similar requests from governors and attorneys general.
“None of the requests from governors, senators, and attorneys general for EPA to waive the RFS this year have been accompanied by the evidence, which is required by the law and previous precedent, showing how the RFS is the cause of ‘severe economic harm’ because such evidence does not exist,” Jennings said.
“More importantly, oil refiners and the politicians beholden to them who keep calling on EPA to reduce RFS blending obligations for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic are disingenuously ignoring the fact that ethanol blending is already falling below statutorily required levels this year with no action by EPA because COVID-19 has cut U.S. motor fuel use by approximately 50 percent in recent months.
“If EPA were to cave in to requests for an unjustifiable RFS waiver, it would amount to a dual cut to renewable fuel use, giving refiners further license to escape their legal responsibility to blend and inflicting gratuitous pain on ethanol producers and farmers.”
Jennings noted that ACE had written Wheeler urging him to “increase blending obligations for 2020 to avoid violation with the statute which instructs the agency to set the RFS at a level that ‘ensures the requirements’ of the RFS are met.” ❖
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I want to address a couple of issues in this week’s editor’s note.