Renewable Fuels Assoc Hopeful Wheeler's EPA Confirmation will Accelerate an End to E15 BarriersMon, 04 Mar 2019 13:13:28 CST
Last week, the US Senate approved the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be the 14th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler has served as Acting Administrator since his predecessor Scott Pruitt resigned in July of last year from the office amid pressure from critics bringing his ethical conduct into question. The Renewable Fuels Association, which regularly criticized Pruitt for his enabling of oil refineries to skirt their legal obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard, applauded the Senate’s decision to approve Wheeler. Geoff Cooper, RFA chief executive officer, confirmed that during the 2019 Commodity Classic held this past week in Orlando while speaking with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
“We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Administrator Wheeler. We have found Mr. Wheeler more open, more transparent, more willing to have conversations with our industry and hear our concerns and opinions on things than certainly his predecessor was,” Cooper said, adding that Pruitt did “an enormous amount of damage” to the renewable fuels industry by letting numerous refineries out of their RFS obligations. “We’re hoping, with Administrator Wheeler now officially in the saddle that we’re going to have somebody at EPA we can work with and get the RFS back on track.”
In addition, Cooper is optimistic that Wheeler will also prioritize finishing the ongoing rulemaking process to allow year-round sales of E15 blend fuels before this summer driving season officially starts, June 1st.
Currently, two-thirds of the nation are legally not permitted to offer E15 fuels for purchase between June 1 through September 15, the busiest driving period of the year. Cooper characterized this as a major barrier that has significantly hindered continued growth in the industry, despite the massive consumer demand that has accumulated both domestically and internationally. Recent reports indicated that finalizing the rule may once again be placed on the back-burner, but Wheeler has adamantly suggested otherwise.
“There was some activity and statements made recently where Secretary Perdue was saying that it’s looking less likely that the E15 rule is going to get done in time for summer,” Cooper said. “Administrator Wheeler came back and said, ‘no, we’re going to get it done,’ so we’re encouraged to hear that and we hope it is right because there isn’t a lot of time left between now and June 1st for that to happen.”
Cooper accuses oil-patch advocates as the reason behind any delays that have already occurred. He explained that President Trump promised ethanol producers that E15 blends would be granted year-round availability and charged his EPA to carry out those orders. However, Cooper says opponents of this have slowed that process by insisting reforms be made to how RFS compliance credits or “RINs” are used.
“We’ve been encouraging the EPA to split these two things apart, deal with the E15 issue now and set aside the so-called RIN reforms separately at a later date,” he said. “But, it sounds like the EPA and White House are resolute in doing this all at once.”
In the meantime, Cooper reports that demand for US renewable fuels continues to grow here at home and around the world. He hopes to see that market potential tapped soon once the E15 barrier is overcome, a deal is struck with China and progress is made to allow the sale of E25 and E30 blends.
Hear Cooper and Horn discuss these issues and others concerning the renewable fuels industry, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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