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RFA President threatening to sue EPA

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

In a recent blog post, AFPM President Charles Drevna, highlighted that the industry continues to wait for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalise the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), with many growing impatient.

Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) President Bob Dinneen is unhappy about the fact the EPA may ‘gut the program’ and he’s threatening to sue, arguing that the EPA does not have the authority to make the adjustments recommended in its proposal. According to Drevna, this assertion may seen contradictory given that Dinneen has testified before Congress and stated on numerous occasions that EPA has the authority to adjust the statutory requirements of the RFS and that it need not reform the program.

At a 10 July, 2012 hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommitte on Energy and Power, Dinneen said: “It is important to remember Congress gave EPA substantial flexibility in administering the RFS program specifically to address some of the uncertainty around the commercialisation of advanced biofuel technologies. The agency has the authority to make annual adjustments to the cellulosic biofuel requirements based on likely availability and other factors.

“Further, in EISA, Congress required EPA to craft a credit waiver system to account for possible shortfalls from the required EPA to craft a credit waiver system to account for possible shortfalls from the established schedule for cellulosic biofuels. These provisions are working effectively and the important forward-looking element of the RFS, which send critical market signals to obligated parties and investors, is being retained. Given the administrative flexibility of the program, Congressional intervention regarding the credit waiver provision or the setting of future cellulosic and advanced biofuels requirements is not prudent or necessary”.

On 23 July, 2013 Bob Dinneen testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, and said the following: “The Clean Air Act’s RFS includes numerous provisions providing flexibility to both obligated parties and the EPA that would mitigate any potential negative impacts on consumers”.

He went on to add:

  • “By virtually any measure, the Renewable Fuel Standard has been an unmitigated success”.
  • “It is important to note that Congress did an excellent job of crafting the RFS, building in a great deal of administrative and market flexibility to deal with issues as hey arise. As a result, there is nothing wrong with the RFS that cannot be fixed with what is right with the RFS, and there is no need to legislate changes to a program that is working well today”.

However, as now the EPA is recommending using its authority to annually adjust RFS requirements on an annual basis in light of prevailing fuel market and economic conditions, Dinneen feels that it does not have the authority that he previously stated that it has.

Drevna holds ‘you can’t have it both ways’.

Adapted from a blog post by Emma McAleavey.

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