Wolf asks EPA to waive RFS blending requirements

By Erin Voegele | May 15, 2020

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on May 11 requesting that the agency exercise its waiver authority to reduce Renewable Fuel Standard blending requirements.

In the letter, Wolf said he is reiterating a request made in November 2018, and said the statutory deadline for a response to that petition passed nearly 14 months ago without a response from the EPA. In the interim, he said EPA has finalized the 2019 and 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVOs), which he said “further underscore the urgent need for a severe-economic-harm waiver.” Wolf also discussed the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Jan. 24 decision that struck down three small refinery exemptions (SREs) approved by the agency. He said that decision “has placed the EPA’s small refinery waivers program—which has been crucial in recent years in keeping a semblance of control on RINs prices—in jeopardy.”

“As explained in my waiver petition, the ever-increasing volume levels set by EPA are severely harming the economies of both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the entire East Coast region,” Wolf wrote. “Merchant refiners such as those in Pennsylvania are struggling to maintain viability under current volume requirements. These refineries face RFS compliance costs that exceed their payroll costs, and, as a result, refiners have laid off employees, reduced benefits, and delayed capital projects. The economic burdens imposed by the RFS volume requirements are unsustainable for refiners operating on tight margins.”

The letter also discusses market impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the refining sector is facing real and substantial difficulty. Wolf claims that “significant harm to the energy economy is expected to result from depressed demand for transportation fuel.” He also claims that “the 2020 RFS compliance obligations, in their current form, risk transforming the current severe economic harm to existential harm for some of the refineries in our states.”