RNG Coalition continues advocacy efforts during COVID-19 pandemic

By Erin Voegele | April 09, 2020

The Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas is continuing its work to advocate for RNG development and its industry members despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Director of Operations David Cox.

Cox said the biggest COVID-19 issue impacting RNG producers so far is lower fuel demand. “That has the potential to be the biggest long-term impact from an operations standpoint,” he said. “You have to find a market for the fuel.” The size of the impact varies company-to-company, depending on where they sell their gas, he added.

As far as the impact on project development activities, Cox said it’s still a little too early to tell what’s going to be delayed and what’s not. “I think we’re all hopeful that the restrictions from the pandemic and the pandemic itself are short lived,” he said, noting that is that there is certainly potential that many projects could be delayed if current COVID-19 related restrictions remain in place for more than the short term.

As far as operations at the RNG Coalition, Cox said the organization implemented a travel ban. “That included cancelling a lot of planned trips,” he said. Many of the state legislatures the RNG Coalition works with have transitioned to working from home, as have most state regulators. The RNG Coalition is continuing to engage with members of state legislatures remotely, and is continuing to work with regulating agencies, Cox said. Much of the engagement with state regulators was already accomplished through written comments and phone calls, Cox added, noting that those outreach efforts have generally continued as normal.

RNG Coalition staff members are also working remotely. “That’s not really new for us,” Cox said, noting that the organization is set up to work that way year round since staff members spending so much time on the road visiting members and working with policymakers.

Congress is expected to take up a fourth COVID-19 stimulus package later this month. Cox said the RNG Coalition is advocating for specific measures to be included in that package, but was unwilling to divulge any details at this time.

“We’re talking to members about where they are specifically feeling the pain [from COVID-19],” Cox said. “The reality is that a lot of the difficulty our industry is facing is also being experienced by the public at large.” That includes work from home restrictions and the inability to get things delivered in a timely fashion. “Not being able to operate at full strength is something that is affecting us all, but there are definitely issues unique to fuels, like demand, that are hitting us especially hard.”

Cox added that he’s been impressed with the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board and the ability of both agencies to transition to remote work and continue their regulatory duties. “That’s been a very big deal to our industry,” Cox said, adding that a lot of early questions the RNG Coalition received focused on whether or not the EPA and CARB would continue to process pathway applications in a timely manner and how renewable identification number (RIN) and Low Carbon Fuel Standard markets would operate during the pandemic. So far, those agency activities are continuing largely as normal.