The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing an increase in the total renewable fuel volume to 19.88 billion gallons, up from the 19.29 billion expected gallons. On the surface, that sounds like great news for the biofuels industry. But corn growers and biofuels groups across the country remain frustrated with the actions of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Pruitt’s agency released its proposal on 2019 Renewable Fuels Standard volume obligations on Tuesday. It kept the conventional biofuel amount at 15 billion gallons but failed to address the lost volumes from 2018 caused by financial hardship waivers given to highly profitable oil companies.
Matt Tomano is the General Manager of POET Biorefining in Portland, IN. He told HAT, “We’re very pleased to see the 15 billion number in there, but definitely disappointed that there’s no reallocation of 1.6 billion lost gallons this year. And also, no assurance that there won’t be more gallons lost next year.”
Reports say that Pruitt removed language from the proposal that would have addressed abuse to the hardship waiver program just before releasing the report, buckling to the oil industry’s demands. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen says it makes no sense.
“We scratch our heads about this because the President of the United States is supportive of 15 billion gallons, meaning 15 billion gallons. He doesn’t believe that refiners need to have exemption from this. So, we’re wondering why Scott Pruitt doesn’t want to listen to the boss, doesn’t care about consumers, is thumbing his nose at farmers across this country. Because this is a good program if implemented the way the statute is designed.”
A comment period on the volume obligations proposal will be open until August 17, but the proposed rule states that EPA will not consider comments on how small refinery exemptions are accounted for.