New Energy America: Beware of Pruitt’s Okla. Two-Step; RVO Numbers Likely Far Less Than Meets the Eye

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2018
CONTACT: Brianna Stevens | (720) 250-7579 | brianna@newenergyamerica.org

“Don’t be fooled by Scott Pruitt’s proposed RVO numbers that appear to meet the statutory minimums for conventional ethanol: Pruitt’s failure to reallocate the RINs waived under Pruitt’s dubious small refinery waiver process results in a dramatic cut to renewable fuels that will destroy rural jobs, hurt the renewable fuels industry, increase our dependence on dirty imported oil, and further harm family farmers,” said Mike Carr, Executive Director of New Energy America. “Scott Pruitt is gutting the RFS, and today’s RVO announcement doesn’t change that fact. Using the waiver process to reduce volumes is a clear breach of Donald Trump’s promise to heartland voters on renewable fuels, and Pruitt deserves the bipartisan outrage he’s receiving for breaking the President’s promise.“ 

New Energy America was founded in 2017 to highlight the role of the clean energy industry in creating economic opportunity throughout the United States, and to support policies that create clean energy jobs. “Pruitt’s action will hurt real workers, and real communities in rural America,” Carr added. “These Americans deserve better.” 

Renewable Fuels Standard Statute Requires 15 Billion Gallons of Conventional Biofuels Plus Production Capacity of Advanced Biofuels
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), passed in 2005 and updated in 2007, requires specific volumes of biofuels to be blended into the fuel supply. Those numbers can be reduced if there is lack of supply to meet the statutory numbers. There is no lack of supply of conventional ethanol, which the statute sets at 15 billion gallons for 2019. The supply for advanced biofuels are to be set at the levels of anticipated supply for 2019.  Because our capacity for advanced biofuels has grown, this results in a net increase in overall volumes. The RFS is the only law on the books that contains requirements for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. A thriving biofuels industry is our only pathway to key reductions in transportation and industrial chemicals necessary to meet the global challenge of climate change.

Pruitt has Been Using Secret “Small Refinery” Waivers to Reduce the Amount of Biofuels in the Fuel Supply
Earlier this year, EPA Administrator began approving waiver requests from refineries across the country under a controversial “small refinery economic hardship” waiver loophole, even though the Department of Energy has determined that many such waivers are not justified. EPA has reportedly issued more than two dozen waivers to such “small” companies as Exxon and Chevron. While EPA has not been transparent about the process or the waivers, it’s been estimated that Pruitt has granted over 1.6 billion gallons in waivers through this loophole. Unless the associated credits are reallocated, this will result in a reduction in renewable fuel volumes of at least 1.6 billion gallons, dramatically undercutting what Congress intended and what the President promised. 

Pruitt Can, and Should, Reallocate the Credits to Protect the Integrity of the RFS
Because he has removed billions of gallons from the fuel supply via the waiver process, Pruitt should reallocate those gallons to ensure that Congress’ intention of increasing biofuels volumes are met. To do otherwise would be to give a massive handout to the oil industry at the expense of the renewable fuels industry. Such a reallocation would be done via the proposed RVO volumes. Because he didn’t reallocate the waived volumes, today’s announcement that they will not reallocate is actually a massive cut in the renewable fuel volumes.

Pruitt is breaking Donald Trump’s promise to heartland voters
Donald Trump made an unequivocal, clear promise to increase the amount of biofuels in the fuel supply and to “match the statutory levels set by Congress” under the RFS while speaking to voters in Iowa in 2016. He gave his word, and rural voters delivered for the President. Now, Trump is standing idly by while his EPA Administrator is breaking his promise and gutting the renewable fuel standard through a secret waiver process. 

Pruitt’s Abuse of the Waiver Process Has Garnered Bipartisan Outrage
Pruitt’s actions have outraged Democrats and Republicans alike. In Iowa alone, both GOP Senators and the GOP Governor are livid at Pruitt for breaking the President’s promise. Senator Grassley noted that “Pruitt is ill serving the president of the United States.” Senator Ernst said Pruitt “is about as swampy as you get here in Washington.” Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said that “Pruitt needs to follow through with what the president promised to Iowans, and if he can’t, then we’ll need to find someone who will.” These Republicans have joined prominent Democrats like Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in criticizing Pruitt over the move.