National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today applauded legislation introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Representative Dusty Johnson, R-S.D. The Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019 would set a deadline for refineries to apply for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers and bring much-needed transparency to the waiver process.
Within the past year, EPA has granted 54 exemptions to refineries, waiving 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel blending under the RFS. EPA has another 39 waiver petitions pending, with decisions from EPA expected in the coming weeks.
Currently, most refineries do not apply for a waiver until after EPA sets the RFS volumes for the coming year. This new legislation would set a June deadline for refineries to apply for RFS exemptions, allowing ample time for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine exemptions before the annual renewable volume obligations (RVOs) are finalized, allowing EPA to avoid retroactive waivers.
While NCGA has asked the EPA to use the annual volume-setting process to account for projected waivers, EPA has, to date, failed to do so. The bill’s deadline for applications means EPA would have no excuse to avoid incorporating waived gallons in the RVOs and the RFS would be kept whole. In addition, the legislation brings transparency to the waiver process by releasing basic information such as which refineries receive waivers.
Farmers are facing a sixth consecutive year of depressed income and commodity prices, with farm income for 2019 projected to be half of what it was in 2013. EPA’s refinery exemptions benefit big oil refiners at the expense of farmers, and waivers negatively impact farmers by undercutting the RFS and reducing corn demand.
NCGA thanks Representatives Peterson and Johnson and the co-chairs of the House Biofuels Caucus, Reps. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, Roger Marshall, R-Kansas and Rodney Davis, D-Ill. for taking the lead on this legislation. NCGA supports this bill and will be asking House members to co-sponsor this legislation.