Biofuel, ag groups ask Trump to uphold SRE deal

By Erin Voegele | November 04, 2019

A coalition of 60 agriculture and biofuel groups sent a letter to President Trump on Nov. 4 urging him to fix the U.S. EPA’s flawed supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that describes the agency’s plan for reallocating future small refinery exemptions (SREs).

“With farmers facing a multi-year decline in income, we enthusiastically supported the administration’s commitment in September to restore the integrity of the [Renewable Fuel Standard] by accurately accounting for volumes lost to RFS [SREs] starting in 2020,” the groups wrote. “Unfortunately, the proposal released by the [U.S. EPA] on [Oct. 15] would not accurately account for SREs and fails its mission to reinvigorate farm economies and reopen biofuel plants across America’s heartland.”

The letter stresses the primary problem with the EPA’s supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking is that is proposes to recover only the gallons previously recommended for exemption by the U.S. Department of Energy, rather than the volume of actual waived gallons. “This one modification converts a commitment to fully account for SREs into a bureaucratically uncertain path that recovers only one fraction of those gallons lost to SREs and could results in the RFS backsliding in 2020,” the groups wrote. This lack of certainty sabotages efforts toward market recovery and will stop biorefineries from reopening.”

The letter also expresses concern about the narrow remedy offered by EPA to farmers and biofuel producers. “The supplemental proposal contains none of the market access remedies sought and makes no commitment to recover gallons lost to SREs after 2020,” the groups continued. “From an investment perspective, the proposed rule offers little more than the promise of a partial one-year fix that may never materialize.”

The letter explains that the biofuel and ag groups share a common vision with Trump regarding the RFS and want to reopen biofuel plants and restore demand for America’s farm products. “We are asking for SRE accountability based on a rolling average of the actual volumes exempted by the EPA during the three most recently completed compliance years,” the groups wrote. “This simple fix will provide the market and regulatory certainty necessary to bring back rural jobs and restore demand. The proposal—as written—will not provide the relief we believe you are seeking.”

Growth Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol, the Renewable Fuels Association, National Biodiesel Board, Fuels America, American Coalition for Ethanol, Advanced Biofuel Business Council, and Biotechnology Innovation Organization are among the 60 groups that signed the letter. A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the Fuels America website.