Grassley: EPA not pursuing plan to attach RINs to biofuel exports

By Erin Voegele | August 16, 2018

The U.S. EPA is no longer considering a plan would allow renewable identification numbers (RINs) to be applied to exported volumes of biofuels, according to remarks made by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, during an Aug. 15 press call.

During the call, Grassley noted he had the opportunity to meet with Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler his recent trip to Iowa. Grassley said he had a good discussion with Wheeler and expressed hope that the meeting will lead to more productive conversations in the future about the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Grassley cited recent media reports showing oil companies are making record profits. The four largest standalone refining businesses in the U.S., including Phillips66, Valero, Marathon Petroleum and Andeavor, have produced the highest stock returns among energy companies in the S&P 500 Index since April 2012, he said. “We don’t have an official list from the EPA, but we are quite certain many—if not all—of the companies I just named received economic hardship waivers from [former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt],” Grassley continued. “Meanwhile, the agricultural industry is having one of the worst hears in recent history and we’re in the midst of a trade war.”

Grassley said it’s more important than ever to make sure any compromises from the EPA with regard to the RFS don’t further hurt Iowa farmers and agriculture communities. “I’ll continue to push for E15 12 months out of the year and make it clear that rural America has already given enough,” he said, stressing that the agricultural community shouldn’t be called upon to make any concessions that benefit big oil.

According to Grassley, the idea that Pruitt and the refining industry was pushing that would have allowed RINs to be applied to ethanol exports is no longer on the table. He noted that Wheeler has made it very clear on several occasions that the administration is no longer considering this plan.

Grassley, however, did note that the Trump administration has directed Wheeler to take action to allow year-round E15 sales, and to do something to benefit refineries. “I think Wheeler is trying to find some balance,” Grassley said. “Something he can do for refineries that will make them happy and still do E15 12 months out of the year. I think it’s fair to say he’s working hard to do that and hasn’t found anything yet.” He also indicated Wheeler has asked for input from both the ethanol and refining industries to try to find a solution.

Grassley expressed hope that if Wheeler is unable to figure out a plan that would satisfy refineries without hurting the ethanol industry, he’ll still move ahead with Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief for E15. He noted that RIN prices have already dropped from 80 cents to 20 cents and are expected to remain low if the EPA takes action to allow year-round E15 sales.