Bill would require EPA to account for SREs in RVO rulemakings

By Erin Voegele | September 19, 2019

Legislation introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., on Sept. 18 would require the U.S. EPA to account for small refinery exemptions (SREs) when formulating annual Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations.

The legislation, titled the Small Refinery Exemption Fairness Act of 2019, or H.R. 4385, was introduced Sept. 18 and refereed to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. To date, 11 representatives have signed on to cosponsor the bill, including Reps. Roger W. Marshall, R-Kan.; Mike Bost, R-Ill.; Darin LaHood, R-Ill.; Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; Sean Casten, D-Ill.; James Comer, R-Ky.; Steve King, R-Iowa; Don Bacon, R-Neb.; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Sam Graves, R-Mo.; and Steve Watkins, R-Kan.

The bill would require the U.S. EPA to use the average number of SREs granted in the previous three calendar years when RFS renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for an upcoming year. Information released by Davis’s office states that requiring the EPA to use realistic estimate of the number of SREs they will grant rather than stating they plan to grant zero when calculating their annual RVO will give the industry some degree of certainty and effectively reallocate some of the lost gallons.

“I’ve heard from many farmers in my district, and this is top of mind for them and its top of mind for me," said Davis. "We need certainty in an uncertain farm economy and the Small Refinery Exemption Fairness Act will put us on the right path to move forward. This bill should be passed immediately, and I hope that any final package proposed by President Trump will include the provisions in my bill.”

The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center, Illinois Corn Growers, and Illinois Farm Bureau have spoken out in support of the bill.

“This legislation comes at a critical time for the biofuels industry,” said Emil Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “With many plants across the country closing or idling, our industry is struggling from the devastating impact of the EPA providing over 4 billion gallons of small refinery exemptions and doing nothing to provide relief to farmers and biofuels producers. The Small Refinery Exemption Fairness Act of 2019 is an important step in ensuring gallons asked of the biofuels industry are met in earnest, and we thank Representative Davis for working towards a solution.”

“RFA thanks Congressman Davis for steadfastly supporting the ethanol producers and farmers who have seen their markets destroyed by EPA’s rampant abuse of small refinery exemptions,” said the group in a statement. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of Congressman Davis and the co-sponsors to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard program.”

“The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center supports the proposed legislation by Representative Davis which brings relief to the ethanol and agriculture industries from the recent increase in granting of small refinery exemptions,” said John Caupert, NCERC executive director. “The reallocation of these lost gallons and considering those exemptions when calculating Renewable Volume Obligations for upcoming years is essential to building demand for home-grown bushels and crucial to the continued growth of the ethanol industry.”