The National Corn Growers Association submitted comments this week applauding the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to rein in exemptions provided to small oil refineries while calling on the agency to commit to the timely implementation of strong blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“The RFS is a successful energy and economic policy for consumers, our environment and for farmers,” Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington said. “A return to consistent and timely RFS administration in 2022 is key to maximizing carbon and pollutant reductions, expanding our energy supply to lower consumer costs, and supporting rural economic growth.”
Edgington indicated in his comments that NCGA strongly supports the proposed 2022 RFS volumes, which include an implied volume of 15 billion gallons for conventional renewable fuel and an increase in total renewable fuel, while expressing opposition to proposed retroactive reductions from final 2020 volumes.
“EPA’s proposal offers the promise of renewable fuel growth and a return to RFS integrity in 2022, but the proposed reconsideration of 2020 volumes would undermine that progress, rewarding the use of more oil in place of clean renewables,” Edgington said. “Corn growers stand ready to help EPA achieve greater emission reductions and cleaner air through use of more renewable, sustainable, affordable ethanol.”
In a separate set of comments submitted to EPA this week, Edgington expressed appreciation for EPA’s proposal to change agency interpretation of the Clean Air Act’s small refinery provisions, applying that interpretation to deny pending small refinery exemption petitions under the RFS.
In recent years, EPA had significantly increased the number of refineries granted RFS exemptions.
In early 2020, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, following a legal challenge from NCGA and ethanol and agriculture partners, determined EPA had previously exceeded agency authority by extending exemptions for small refineries based on economic factors other than RFS compliance.
“EPA’s proposal and denial of pending waivers offer a path forward,” Edgington said. “NCGA urges EPA to finalize this proposal without delay to close the chapter on RFS waiver abuse.”