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White House deal: First step towards returning integrity to RFS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump today (Friday) released plans to restore biofuels demand. Trump’s biofuel plan restores lost gallons from small refinery exemptions after a long drawn-out battle between oil and biofuel advocates.

A renewable fuels proponent says: “The proposal would be a tourniquet to stop the bleeding from small refinery exemptions.”

The Trump Administration spent months crafting a proposal, which looked to repair damaged caused by multiple small refinery exemptions. On Friday, President Trump “rolled out the red carpet” for renewable fuels proponents.

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association, believes the proposal, at its core, starts to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“We’ve had all of these refinery exemptions go out the back door, so when they set a 15 billion gallon (blending obligation) for conventional biofuels, it did not end up being 15 billion gallons. That’s not how the law was supposed to work,” Shaw said.

“What the President has proposed is they will start accounting for (exemptions) by looking back at the prior three years of exemptions and factoring that into the new numbers. That would restore the integrity; that would mean 15 means 15,” Shaw said. 

“President Trump’s announcement is the first step in providing certainty to the marketplace with integrity,” Shaw said.

Senator Ted Cruz, speaking on behalf of Texas oil refiners, says he is “disappointed” in the Administration, which “intends to roll back regulatory relief recently provided to our nation’s independent refineries.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon propose and request public comment on expanding biofuel requirements, beginning in 2020. Shaw says his organization is “not counting its chickens,” but remains hopeful.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon propose and request public comment on expanding biofuel requirements, beginning in 2020 and Shaw says his organization is “not counting its chickens,” just yet.

“This is a proposal, and they have to take other comments into account during the process. But we feel the law is on our side, and we’ve made our case to get this far. We need to make sure that what comes out of the final rule is something that does this. That it doesn’t get watered down, changed or dropped,” Shaw said.

Shaw mentions additional provisions, outlined in the proposal, which will put the renewable fuels industry on “a glide path to sell more biofuels.”

“They are proposing to do some things that, in theory, would help make it a little easier for retailers to offer E15,” Shaw said.

Shaw said there is also a proposal for USDA to build out infrastructure to the retail level, so higher blends like E15 and E85 can be offered to the public.

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