API, AFPM each ask EPA to review RFS, ground-level ozone rules

The American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers each asked the US Environmental Protection Agency to review the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and reconsider ground-level ozone limits.

The American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers each asked the US Environmental Protection Agency to review the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and reconsider ground-level ozone limits.

Their requests came in comments filed in response to EPA’s solicitation of suggestions for regulations to be reviewed and possibly revised or repealed. This followed US President Donald Trump’s executive order to federal departments and agencies to consider whether their regulations are unduly burdensome.

“Consistent with President Trump’s stated objectives of American energy leadership and economic growth, EPA and other federal agencies should embrace and advance a regulatory system that promotes responsible access to domestic oil and natural gas resources, streamlined permitting and cost-effective regulations based on sound science,” said Howard J. Feldman, API senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs.

Both associations strongly criticized implementation of quotas under the RFS, which was established under the 2005 Energy Policy Act and expanded under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. They urged EPA to use its waiver authority to reduce future advanced, cellulosic, and renewable fuel obligations to assure the mandate does not exceed the E10 blend wall.

AFPM also noted in its May 16 comments that it has petitioned EPA to move the point of obligation under the Renewable Identification Numbers compliance program from the refining and blending to the product rack, where states collect excise taxes. API opposes this idea, calling it a temporary fix at best.

Both associations said they would like to see the RFS repealed because the US crude oil supply and demand outlook has improved so dramatically since its enactment.

Ozone nonattainment problems

API and AFPM also expressed concern over EPA’s 2015 reduction of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground level ozone to 70 ppb while many states and localities still had not fully implemented the 75 ppb limit under the 2008 NAAQS. The stricter 2015 limit potentially could push areas without much industrial activity into nonattainment because it fails to consider naturally occurring background ozone, the associations have said.

“AFPM recognizes that the 5-year cycle is part of the statutory design of the Clean Air Act, and that other implementation measures are based in statute,” said David Friedman, AFPM vice-president for regulatory affairs. “But the administration can ease the burden on states and businesses by further considering how improving air quality can be accounted for [and] considered during the implementation process for the 2015 ozone NAAQS.”

API said in its comment that implementation rules and associated tools such as robust modeling are not sufficiently flexible and available to implement the NAAQS. It recommended that rules be predictable and provide maximum flexibility to the states and affected sources. “Grandfathering, which is addressed in the NAAQS rule itself, does not provide sufficient transition periods when a NAAQS is revised. The current situation can cause uncertainty and costly delays to both states and businesses,” it warned.

Both associations also said that a petroleum refining risk and technology review rule, which EPA made final on Dec. 1, 2015, needs to be reconsidered. “AFPM members have significant concerns surrounding the new requirements to compel disclosure of potentially security-sensitive information to emergency responders and the public, perform inherently safer technology assessments and third-party audits, and eliminate the use of representative sampling when performing a compliance audit,” Friedman said.

“Particularly, sharing security-sensitive information is adverse to [the US Department of Homeland Security’s] mission to protect our nation’s security,” he said.

API recommended that EPA reaffirm relevant features of the final rule without making it more stringent. It also called for an accelerated issue resolution pace, especially for issues with approaching compliance deadlines and for those requiring regulatory language changes. “EPA should work to more fully develop the record on important aspects of the rule, [such as] the work practice for pressure relief devices and flares,” API said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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