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A Week for RFS “Epiphany” at EPA

There were reports last week that the White House told EPA to stand down on proposals that biofuels advocates say threaten the Renewable Fuel Standard. The news came after Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds spoke with President Trump Wednesday morning over the phone before a planned meeting between the two this week.

“He reached out to me,” she said. “They are feeling the pressure and that’s why we need to keep it up. We can’t let down. We need to continue to talk about the importance and why it’s necessary to show growth and stand behind a robust Renewable Fuels Standard. They reached out to talk to me so that he could reiterate his commitment to the RFS. He talked about the process that they’re going through and that some things were being taken out of context.”

Just hours later the Trump administration reportedly instructed the EPA to back away from two proposals, one that would reduce biodiesel requirements and another that would allow exported renewable fuel to count toward domestic quotas. Meanwhile, some Midwest senators had threatened to not back a Trump EPA nominee, unless the President pulled back the proposals.

Then Thursday night, in a letter to seven senators, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt committed to final 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations at levels equal or greater to those that the agency proposed in July, as well as a commitment to finalize the rule by the Nov. 30 statutory deadline. In the letter, Pruitt also announced EPA will finalize a decision within the next 30 days to deny a change to the point of obligation for compliance with the RFS, the agency will “actively explore” whether it has the legal authority to approve year-round access to E15 and the agency will not take action on a rumored proposal to allow ethanol exports to count towards RFS compliance.

“The U.S. ethanol industry is grateful for Administrator Pruitt’s epiphany on the road to the RFS,” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We look forward to working with EPA to preserve and grow the RFS, encourage innovation in the production and marketing of biofuels, and secure common-sense reform in the regulations that have kept higher octane ethanol fuels from being sold year-round. As for the members of Congress, governors, and others who advocated so strongly for farmers and consumers, we thank you profusely.”

Emily Skor, CEO with Growth Energy added, “Growth Energy applauds EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s pledge to Senate biofuels champions to uphold the president’s continuous support of the RFS and faithfully administer the law passed by Congress. The commitments outlined in his letter – when finalized – will ensure American biofuels continue to deliver value to consumers nationwide. We thank our senate champions and governors, whose unyielding support helped secure this landmark commitment from the EPA.

“We will continue to work with EPA on all matters regarding biofuel regulations and look forward to the final Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) with levels equal to or greater than the total levels in the proposed rule, including an increase for cellulosic biofuels.”

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