President-Elect Donald Trump has picked Scott Pruitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma since 2011, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The choice of Pruitt represents a positive development for the fuel retailing industry, as Pruitt is generally viewed as someone who supports the fossil fuel industries.
It remains unclear, however, where Pruitt stands on a number of industry-specific issues that affect NATSO members.
One item of specific concern to NATSO members is that Pruitt was hand-selected by Trump advisor Carl Icahn who has simultaneously been leading a major public policy campaign to shift the point of obligation for complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard refiners downstream to rack sellers. If the policy shift were to occur, many fuel blenders and retailers would be required to obtain and retire RINs with EPA.
The current policy creates a strong incentive for fuel marketers to blend renewable fuels into the fuel supply while lowering the price at the pump for consumers. Changing the point of obligation would discourage fuel marketers from integrating renewable fuels into the fuel supply while simultaneously raising prices at the pump.
In praising Pruitt’s nomination Dec. 7, Icahn said, “I think he will get done what needs to be done in the shortest period of time and there’s much to be done, especially concerning the obligated party rule … I believe it is mandatory that a change goes into effect for 2017.”
In congratulating Pruitt on his nomination, NATSO along with the National Association of Convenience Stores and SIGMA and other fuel-related associations said they looked forward to working with him on a broad spectrum of issues, including the RFS, but hoped that he would take into consideration that a majority of the fuel industry, including most refiners, is united on keeping the point of obligation where it stands.
NATSO joined seven fuel associations representing the majority of participants across the transportation fuels sector in expressing unified support for a November proposal by EPA to keep the current point of obligation under the RFS.
A Nov. 30 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy marked the first time that these organizations have collectively backed a single issue.
Pruitt’s nomination is expected to be hotly contested by Democrats who view him as a large-scale threat to climate change initiatives.
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