EPA extends comment period for small refiner RFS quota exemptions

The US Environmental Protection Agency has extended by 30 days the public comment period on whether to continue, amend, or rescind exemptions for small refiners under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has extended by 30 days the public comment period on whether to continue, amend, or rescind exemptions for small refiners under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

EPA acted after receiving a request for an extension from the Small Refiners Coalition to permit its members to provide thorough comments and data. The original comment period ended on Aug. 22.

Fuel ethanol manufacturers have said that EPA’s Small Refiner Exemptions (SRE) have had a negative impact on demand for their product. “On the very same day your agency suggested there is ‘zero evidence’ of demand destruction, two major ethanol producers announced they were idling production,” Renewable Fuels Association Pres. Geoff Cooper told EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler in an Aug. 22 letter.

Cooper said that in the week following EPA’s Aug. 9 announcement that 31 more SREs had been approved, ethanol prices plunged 12% or 18¢/gal, corn prices fell 11% or 47¢/bushel, and credit values for Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN)—the trading mechanism EPA developed to help refiners and other obligated parties meet renewable fuel quotas under the RFS—dropped from “the already low level of 20¢ to just 12¢.”

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers responded on Aug. 22 that while SREs may have affected RIN prices, the exemptions have not reduced renewable fuel consumption in the US. Citing US Energy Information Administration figures, AFPM said total consumption of ethanol in this year’s first 5 months was higher than in similar periods for all prior years.

US biodiesel consumption during this year’s first 5 months also was up from previous years’ comparable periods, suggesting there has not been biodiesel demand destruction from SRE’s granted for years prior to 2018, AFPM indicated.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@endeavorb2b.com.

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