EPA to disclose CBI associated with SREs to GOA

By Erin Voegele | May 05, 2021

The U.S. EPA on May 5 published a notice announcing it will disclose confidential business information (CBI) to the U.S. Government Accountability Office that is associated with small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions filed under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

A document published in the Federal Register explains that the EPA is providing notice of disclosure to all obligated parties under the RFS program that have petitioned for an SRE and to all partiers whose RFS information otherwise resides in the EPA’s moderated transaction system (EMTS). In response to a request by the GAO, the EPA said it will disclose information to GAO that has been summitted to the agency that is claimed to be, or has been determined to be, CBI. “The information to be disclosed includes all documents, information, and data related to all small refinery exemption petitions received by EPA from the start of the RFS program through the present,” the agency said in the notice.

The impacted records include, but are not limited to, all materials submitted by small refineries as part of its petitions; any documentation send by the U.S. Department of Energy to EPA stating DOE's findings and scores associated with the petitions and any EPA responses thereto; any EPA record addressing the subject of the exemption petitions, including any analysis that EPA conducted in addition to DOE’s findings; and EPA’s final exemption decision sent to the refinery. The EPA said it also intends to disclose to GAO all related transaction-level data contained in the EMTS, including the renewable identification number (RIN) transactions under the RFS.

The EPA said the material discussed in the notice will be disclosed to GAO within 16 calendar days, and noted that all CBI-claimed documents will be destroyed, deleted or returned to EPA at the conclusions of GAO’s review. Any objections to EPA’s disclosure must be raised within 15 days of publication of the notice.

The Renewable Fuels Association has spoken out to praise EPA’s announcement. “Today’s announcement that EPA will cooperate with the GAO investigation is a win for transparency and accountability,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “We applaud the new leadership at EPA for providing the requested information to GAO, and we thank Administrator Regan for taking another important step toward restoring the integrity of the RFS program. RFA also is grateful to the bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by former Rep. Abby Finkenauer and Rep. Cindy Axne, who requested this investigation nearly two years ago and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Ethanol producers look forward to the results of GAO’s investigation and believe it will shine much-needed light on the previous EPA’s dark and secretive management of the exemption program.”

A full copy of the notice is available on the Federal Register website