Surely the Art of the Deal Includes Living Up to Commitments?

By Donnell Rehagen | October 28, 2019

Again, I am posting with a great deal of frustration and downright anger about how our recent honest and collaborative work with the Trump administration to restore the integrity of the RFS has been totally undermined by the EPA.

EPA Administrator Wheeler: A deal is a deal. The biodiesel industry is tired of your constant efforts to find ways to help big oil companies at the expense of our biodiesel producers and soybean farmers. These large petroleum companies do not need a handout from our small biodiesel producers and soybean farmers. When you, Mr. Wheeler, take action in favor of small refinery exemptions, you take profits from biodiesel producers and soybean farmers and hand those over to these major corporations. Small refinery exemptions are a forced handout from our small producers and our nation’s farmers to the most profitable companies in the world. 

The past three years of small refinery exemptions that the EPA has granted have destroyed hundreds of millions of gallons of demand for biodiesel. The 31 exemptions granted this year alone accounted for over 250 million gallons of lost demand. Those gallons and associated profits will never be returned to our producers.

After seeing this new trend out of this EPA resulting in such great demand destruction, year after year, the biodiesel industry finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel earlier in October as President Trump engaged us in a conversation about how to restore the integrity of the RFS. In good faith, we offered a solution that continued to allow the EPA to offer small refinery exemptions but would take an average of the most recent three-year actual volume of those exemptions and add that amount into the RVO on an annual basis. This seemed more than fair and very easy to implement, while providing transparency to the process. And the president agreed with the concept, its fairness and he accepted the deal. 

Our trade association, along with our members, and fellow industry leaders were optimistic and offered enthusiastic support and thanks to the president. Then, like a Halloween horror show, the EPA, tasked with codifying the deal, drafted a draconian rule that gutted that agreement and would return only approximately half of the volume of biofuels that the deal with the president promised. The EPA is not living up to the president’s commitment made in the Oval Office. There is not much art in that deal.

We are working hard and fast as a trade association to get the strong RFS we deserve. The National Biodiesel Board and the soy industry, along with the ethanol and corn industries, are standing as a unified front to amplify our messaging and bring integrity back to a program that was built to encourage investments in advanced biofuels like biodiesel, renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel.

We are just asking for what we have worked hard to secure: a commitment to the integrity of the RFS on an annual basis. Without a true accounting of the gallons of small refinery exemptions being granted and those gallons being accounted for in the final volume, an RVO volume is just a number … a number that can later be gutted. This is what has been happening under this EPA and those kinds of under-the-table shenanigans have got to stop. We’ve gotten the president’s commitment to make it stop, now we need his EPA administrator to execute on that promise.

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