Biofuel plant managers urge Trump to reject gap year SREs

By Erin Voegele | September 08, 2020

A group of 93 biofuel plant managers, farm organizations and biofuel stakeholders sent a letter to President Trump on Sept. 8 urging him to stand in defense of the Renewable Fuel Standard and call on the U.S. EPA to reject the 67 gap year small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions currently pending with the agency.

The letter calls the gap year SREs an “urgent threat facing rural communities” and stresses that SRE petitions approved by the EPA over the past three years have “destroyed demand for billions of gallons of biofuels, needlessly depressing the market for U.S. corn and soybeans.”

“Now, EPA is considering 67 ‘gap-year’ exemptions covering periods as far back as 2011,” the group wrote. “The new handouts would destroy as much demand as we lost to the 85 exemptions already granted by this EPA. They represent a brazen attempt to circumvent limits set by the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, which determined that EPA ‘abused its discretion’ over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by granting similar exemptions.”

Despite the court’s ruling, the letter notes that the EPA has yet to deny dozens of pending SRE petitions. The agency has also failed to make any move to enforce the court’s ruling. “Meanwhile, the agency has failed to follow through on the administration’s prior commitment to streamline labeling and remove barriers to the sale of E15,” the group wrote. “As a result, the agency’s actions have undermined any potential gains offered by your widely celebrated decision to permit year-round sales of E15—a decision that should have been a huge success. Now more than ever, we need you to put your foot down and demand your EPA send a clear signal to struggling rural communities that the demand destruction is over.”

“Our communities are still working to rebuild America’s agricultural supply chain in the wake of COVID19,” they continued. “Recent storms that swept the Midwest, impacting millions of acres, only add greater urgency of the situation. The last thing we can afford is more needless uncertainty fueled by an endless battle with Washington bureaucrats.

“We’ve seen too many plants shut down, too many jobs lost, and too many farmers deprived of vital markets. That is why we are asking you to stand strong in defense of the RFS, call on EPA to reject so-called ‘gap-year’ refinery exemptions, and immediately apply the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling on the program nationwide,” the group concluded.

Growth Energy issued a statement in support of the letter. “America’s farmers and biofuel workers need to see the White House finally put an end to EPA’s demand destruction,” said Growth Energy Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “These so-called ‘gap-year’ exemptions represent a clear attempt to sidestep the law at the expense of rural communities. Every day the EPA does not act, the agency is injecting more uncertainty into the market and threatening the rural recovery.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the Growth Energy website.


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