ACE fly-in begins with EPA Q&A

By Lisa Gibson | April 02, 2019

Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, told about 75 ACE members at the group’s fly-in April 2 to make sure they aren’t shy when asking questions of Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of the U.S. EPA. Wehrum spoke to participants during a morning session of the fly-in, taking questions from attendees that focused on small refinery exemptions (SREs) and the Renewable Fuel Standard reset.

The fly-in is scheduled to include more than 120 meetings on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and their staffs, representing 45 states. Meetings on the Hill at this year’s fly-in are intended to focus on year-round E15, ethanol’s low-carbon and high-octane benefits, and the RFS and SREs.

EPA has said the E15 waiver will be ready by the end of May, but renewable identification number (RIN) changes remain a concern. “It’s got a lot of unnecessary reforms to the RIN program that are saddled onto this rulemaking that could really undercut our goals,” Jennings said. Among other issues, EPA is forcing RIN limits, despite admitting it has no evidence of RIN number manipulation, he said.

Carbon benefits of ethanol are getting better, while carbon impacts of gasoline are getting worse, Jennings told fly-in attendees. In addition, studies continue to show lower land-use-change scores for ethanol.

Fly-in attendees were perhaps the most interested in SREs. Jennings said SREs are “devastating to the industry. I think we need to be really firm about making this point.” In 2016 and 2017, 54 waivers were granted, totaling more than 2.6 billion gallons. “They need to be reallocated and I’m telling you something you already know because you told Bill Wehrum that.” It likely will need to be addressed through a lawsuit, he added. ACE is involved in a lawsuit in the 10th Circuit to challenge three specific SREs granted to HollyFrontier Corp. and CVR Energy. It has also petitioned EPA to reallocate SREs. EPA has not responded. “That’s something that we could take up here in DC in the DC circuit,” Jennings said.

“We’re not asking too much of EPA,” he said. “We are not asking too much of elected leaders to make sure the rule of law is followed with respect to the RFS.”