Cosmo Servidio: EPA delivers on fuels promise
Last fall, President Trump promised the American people that the Environmental Protection Agency would bring consumers more choices at gas pumps across the country.
In a federal rule finalized last week, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler delivered on that promise by clearing regulatory barriers to make it easier to sell fuel with up to 15% ethanol year-round. This action strengthens America’s energy dominance and provides greater market opportunities for American farmers who grow the corn used to produce ethanol. Overall, it’s a win-win for gasoline consumers and farmers.
In the past, the EPA’s regulations meant that gas stations selling E15 often chose to stop selling it during the summer months due to the added regulatory cost and complexity. By removing those additional burdens, operators can now choose to sell E15 all year.
This rule is also a step forward in improving the management of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program. The RFS program is a national policy that requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum-based transportation fuel. That program makes use of tradable credits — or “RINs” — that refiners use to show they are complying with the program every year.
Trump also directed the EPA to consider a range of reforms to the RIN market. In response, EPA is finalizing changes to certain elements of the RIN compliance system of the RFS program by increasing transparency to deter price manipulation in the RIN market.
The reforms include public disclosure if a party’s RIN holdings exceed certain thresholds and additional data collections to improve EPA market monitoring capability. We believe that the actions we are finalizing today lay a strong foundation for improving the functioning and overall transparency of the RIN market. This will benefit all renewable market participants by ensuring a level and open playing field.
And here in the Mid-Atlantic Region, where small merchant refiners have experienced dramatic fluctuations in RIN prices in the last several years, these RIN market reforms should come as welcome news. We believe these efforts will go a long way to helping small merchant refiners — some who have in the past approached EPA with hardship waiver requests — to comply with the RFS program.
The EPA will closely monitor the implementation of this rule and continue to work on these important topics with interested stakeholders.
This rule package will also require the EPA and stakeholders to engage with and educate consumers at gas pumps and in the RIN markets. We are confident that the EPA’s final rule will help power us toward more innovative, market-driven solutions that provide avenues for continued economic growth and environmental improvement.
The agency’s final rule is a step forward in expanding biofuel opportunities and managing an important program responsibly. Together our actions will give consumers and farmers the certainty and clarity they need.