As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) faces mounting pressure to reject petitions to change the current compliance structure under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), media coverage exploded last week amid the closing of EPA’s comment period and claims that the White House struck a back room deal with the Renewable Fuels Association.
Following the Feb. 22 closing of EPA’s public comment period on whether to shift who bears responsibility for complying with the law, Feedstuffs reported that although the Administration has a “sympathetic ear” on making the change, changing the compliance responsibility lacks the support of a growing coalition.
NATSO Vice President of Government Affairs David Fialkov, said in an interview with Bloomberg News changing the “point of obligation,” as it is commonly called, would inject significant disruption into the fuels market that would be felt by consumers and businesses throughout the country.
NATSO, in collaboration with other industry stakeholders, has engaged a diverse group of more than 35 organizations and companies representing downstream blenders, fuel retailers, marketers and end users at the federal and state levels in opposing the shift. Coalition members include truckstops, fuel producers, retailers, trucking fleets, truck drivers, and railroads among many others.
NATSO is heartened by the overwhelming number of stakeholders who are urging the EPA to keep the RFS compliance with refiners, importers and manufacturers,” Lisa Mullings, president and CEO of NATSO, said in a statement that was picked nationwide by media outlets. “We urge the EPA not to shift compliance onto thousands of small business fuel retailers, which would inject massive disruption into fuels markets and raise fuel prices, ultimately harming the economy and hard¬working Americans.”
Despite the submission of thousands of comments, it was widely rumored in Washington, D.C., that the Trump Administration planned to issue an executive order directing EPA to shift the compliance responsibility under the RFS from refiners and importers to the rack.
The rumors followed statements from the Renewable Fuels Association claiming that it had reached an agreement with the Administration for a waiver on gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.
NATSO and several of its partners quickly issued a statement denouncing the agreement as a back room deal that would severely undermine the RFS and force everyday Americans to shoulder the burdens of higher fuel costs and more expensive goods.
The White House subsequently denied RFA’s statements, saying there is no ethanol executive order in the works, but has not yet indicated that such a deal is off the table.
NATSO continues to closely monitor this situation and continues to urge EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reject efforts to change the “point of obligation.”
In a March 2 letter that included oil and ethanol producers alongside truckstops, convenience stores, truck drivers, trucking fleets, railroads and highway users, NATSO and its coalition partners said, “The one issue that brings us all together is our belief that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should deny petitions to change the point of obligation for RFS compliance,” the letter states.
The letter marked the first time that all of these organizations have come together on one issue and underscores the critical importance of the current compliance structure on the fuels market and the U.S. economy.
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