EPA favors oil refiners over corn farmers

The EPA recent decision at failing to factor in lost demand into its proposed renewable volume obligations is yet another setback in a long string of setbacks for homegrown biofuels and the American family farmers who grow them say farm groups.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the proposed Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rule for 2020 on July 5. Once again EPA has failed to account for lost volumes due to refinery exemptions and uphold the President’s commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“We are frustrated the EPA did not account for potential waived gallons going forward in the proposed rule,” said National Corn Growers Association President and Nebraska farmer Lynn Chrisp. “If the EPA continues to grant retroactive waivers, the RVO numbers are meaningless and the EPA is not following the law. Farmers are facing a very tough economic environment and the continued waiver abuse chips away at farmers’ bottom line.”

Since early 2018, the EPA has granted 53 RFS exemptions totaling 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel. There are currently 38 pending petitions for 2018.

EPA also failed to uphold the D.C. Circuit Court’s 2017 ruling, requiring the Agency to account for 500 million gallons it improperly waived in 2016. “There is no reason for the EPA to not account for those gallons,” Chrisp added. “It appears the EPA continues to favor big oil and not uphold the RFS. This narrative is getting old. It is time for the EPA to follow the law to ensure the waivers do not destroy volume requirements.”

National Farmers Union (NFU), a strong proponent of biofuels and the RFS, has repeatedly urged EPA to account for the damage caused by the waivers. NFU President Roger Johnson expressed disappointment that EPA failed not only to factor the lost demand into its proposed RVOs but to increase biofuel use at all.

Roger Johnson

“This is yet another setback in a long string of setbacks for homegrown biofuels and the American family farmers who grow them. At every turn, EPA and this administration have undermined the intent of RFS and destroyed demand for billions of gallons of ethanol," Johnson said.

“Time and time again, President Trump has promised to support the biofuels industry and increase demand for American farm products. Family farmers have waited long enough for him to make good on those promises. It is long past time for his administration to do so by halting the misallocation of exemptions and accounting for the lost gallons in the finalized RVOs, he added.