EPA, Pruitt Fall Short with New RFS Proposal

EPA did little to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), in its proposal for 2019 RFS blending requirements, according to the Kansas Corn Growers Association. When EPA  Administrator, Scott Pruitt talked about the pending announcement during a visit to a Kansas ethanol plant earlier in June, he told growers, “You’re going to like what you see.” But to KCGA leaders, the proposal falls short of expectations.

The EPA proposal follows Congressional intent by proposing a 15-billion-gallon volume for conventional ethanol. Yet, those actual volumes will be reduced by Administrator Pruitt’s practice of granting retroactive waivers to refineries, rendering the proposed blending levels meaningless.

Also, the proposed rule states that EPA will not consider comments on how small refinery exemptions are accounted for during the upcoming comment period on the proposed rule.

“So we have a 15-billion-gallon RFS,” said Ken McCauley, KCGA President and farmer from White Cloud, Kansas, “but Administrator Pruitt has handed out exemptions to refineries for 1.6 billion gallons. That cuts demand down to 13.4 billion gallons. And EPA says they don’t want to hear from us about refinery waivers.”

The announcement and recent news reports made growers question the authenticity of Administrator Pruitt’s recent visit to Kansas and other Midwest states.

“From why I see, Administrator Pruitt lied to Kansas farmers and ethanol producers when he met with us,” McCauley said. “He said we’d like what we see in the RVO announcement and he had to know we wouldn’t. He also told us that his hands were tied in his decisions to grant waivers to refiners. He said those decisions were made jointly with the Department of Energy. Now Reuters cites five sources that claim Administrator Pruitt ignored DOE’s recommendations to reject or limit waivers to refineries.”

Administrator Pruitt has used the small refinery waiver process to grant an unprecedented amount of waivers. The proposal doesn’t address reallocation of waived gallons back to the RFS. At his Kansas meeting, Administrator Pruitt said reallocation was the “right thing to do.”

“Unfortunately, this is what we expected,” said Kansas Corn leader, Dennis McNinch from Utica, Kanas. “We met with Administrator Pruitt in good faith and shared our frustrations about what he is doing to undermine the RFS. He shook our hands but apparently didn’t take our words to heart.”

Kansas Corn leaders speak with Administrator Pruitt during his visit to East Kansas Agri-Energy in early June.