The Environmental Protection Agency released aggregated information on small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuels Standard the agency issued over the last couple of years. A DTN report says they’ve also given out information on current and future waiver requests. The agency says it granted 49 waivers in 2016 and 2017. Those waivers added up to 2.25 billion gallons in biofuels, which negatively affected roughly 800 million bushels of corn demand. Because of those waivers, the National Biodiesel Board says that amounted to a loss of 300 million gallons of biofuels. In a statement issued last week, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says, “Increasing transparency will improve implementation of the RFS and provide stakeholders and the regulated community with the certainty and clarity they need to make important business and compliance decisions.”
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says he hopes making this information public will be beneficial for both the biofuels and agriculture markets. EPA says it will also post the latest Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) weekly average prices as well as the volume of RINs sold. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says her group still has questions about how the EPA will resolve the issue of the lost gallons of biofuels.
The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA):
“We appreciate the step EPA Acting Administer Andrew Wheeler has taken to update the RFS data website to bring some initial transparency to refinery exemptions. This information is a good place to start.
“However, there are a lot of questions left unanswered. We will still not know EPA’s justification for granting a refinery waiver and, without a change in how EPA accounts for those exempted gallons, those waived gallons will still be lost from RFS obligations. It’s helpful to know when the harm is being done, but EPA needs to go a step further and take steps to mitigate the damage.
“We are still waiting for a plan to ensure exemptions are accounted for, with 2.25 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons waived during the past year and with 11 new 2018 petitions pending. With low commodity prices and an expected large corn harvest, America’s corn farmers need reliable markets for their crop.”
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen had the following statement:
“This is a step in the right direction, and we applaud Acting Administrator Wheeler’s initial efforts to provide greater transparency to the RFS program. Today’s action may prevent small refiners from obtaining market-moving information before other participants in the marketplace. That’s important because it appears the RIN market was gamed earlier this year by a small group of refiners who were privy to sensitive information regarding compliance exemptions before the rest of the market knew what was going on. Hopefully, this will put a stop to that. However, more information and transparency are still needed. Market participants and the public deserve to know exactly who is receiving small refinery exemptions and what criteria is being used by EPA in making the decision to grant or deny a waiver request.”
Sources: NAFB News Service, NCGA, and RFA