EPA Chief Pruitt Will Keep RFS at Current Level10/20/2017
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt assured Republicans Thursday night that he would keep the Renewable Fuel Standard intact, and would even work with them to allow more ethanol to be blended into the gasoline supply year-round.
The assurances come amid a major pressure campaign by both Republicans and Democrats on President Trump and Pruitt to scrap an EPA proposal to significantly curtail the program’s biofuel targets while allowing ethanol exports to qualify as part of the annual production goals.
Pruitt said he would not pursue regulations on the ethanol export idea floated by refiners. The ethanol industry sees the idea as detrimental to the integrity of the program and to the goal of including more renewable fuels in the nation’s fuel supply.
“EPA has not taken any formal action to propose this idea, nor will EPA pursue regulations,” Pruitt wrote in a letter sent to a group of GOP senators Thursday.
On the issue of lowering next year’s annual requirements for blending renewable fuel in the nation’s gasoline and diesel supply, Pruitt assured the senators that the numbers would be set at levels “equal to or greater than the proposed amounts.”
That means the numbers won’t drop below what has been allocated in the proposed rule, while leaving room to even raise them. A separate measure that EPA is also considering is dropping the biomass-based diesel standard, along with the blending goals for more advanced biofuels.
Pruitt suggested that proposal isn’t going anywhere, saying at least 2.1 billion gallons of the renewable diesel fuel will be included in the annual goals for 2018 and 2019.
Pruitt also offered to work with the senators on providing a Reid Vapor Pressure waiver for 15-percent ethanol fuel blends after legislation to do so has stalled.
He said he has directed EPA staff to examine if the agency has the authority to waive the fuel volatility standards for E15, and invited senators to work on the issue, including developing a definitive analysis of EPA’s authority to issue a waiver.
Most of the gasoline in the country contains 10 percent ethanol. E15 can only be blended during the fall and winter months and not the summer months because of its high fuel volatility and state measures to keep emissions and smog in check.
The waiver would allow more ethanol to be blended in the gasoline supply, opening up a bigger market for ethanol.
“These assurances are a clear win for Iowans,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst in a statement. She was one of the recipients of Pruitt’s letter, and had met with Pruitt on Wednesday to express her concerns about some of EPA’s proposals.
“Echoing the President’s commitment to advancing the full potential of the RFS to benefit rural America is welcome at a time when our family farms are struggling with commodity prices that are below the cost of production,” she added. “I am appreciative of Administrator Pruitt’s pledges to rural America, and I will continue to work collaboratively with the EPA going forward on this and other issues that help our farmers, manufacturers, land owners, businesses and communities.”