Lawmakers ask FTC to investigate manipulation of RIN markets

By Erin Voegele | November 10, 2017

A bipartisan group of six members of Congress wrote to the Federal Trade Commission on Nov. 7 asking the agency to investigate possible market manipulation in the renewable identification number (RIN) market.

“We believe RIN market manipulation—and the resulting market volatility—is negatively affecting the economic stability of East Coast refiners,” the members of Congress wrote. “We ask that your agency investigate and end any possible RIN market manipulation under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission’s Petroleum Market Manipulation Rule.”

 In the letter, the members of Congress explain that RIN prices have fluctuated widely over the past four years, including a spike of 200 percent this year. “This price volatility creates great uncertainty for obligated parties, especially for merchant refiners like the ones along the East Coast that limited capability to blend biofuels into their products and need RINs to comply with the RFS program’s requirements,” the senators wrote.

The members of Congress note that both the biofuels industry and the refining industry have publically expressed concerns that market manipulation in the RIN market is occurring and is resulting in volatility and price spikes. “Last year, the EPA entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to try to address this concern,” the members of Congress wrote. “Unfortunately, there has been little collaboration between the agencies to clamp down on responsible parties.”

Within the letter, the members of Congress ask the FTC to respond in writing and outline the steps it will take to address their concerns. They also request the FTC provide recommendations on any additional measures that can be taken against future RIN market manipulation.

The letter is signed by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa.; Corey Booker, D-N.J.; and Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.; and Patrick Meehan, R-Pa.