In the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) oil refiners have a volume obligation of renewable fuels that they have to put in the gasoline supply. If they don’t, they may purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) from other refiners.
However, some refiners rack up millions of dollars in RIN debts. and claim that they cannot afford to meet the requirements, then petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a waiver.
These are supposed to be for small refiners who produce fewer than 75,000 barrels a day. In the past, they would also have to prove that they face disproportionate economic hardship under the RFS.
Now, the EPA is reported to be handing out waivers, without much announcement on who is receiving them. Reuters reported Andeaver, an oil company that posted $1.5 billion in profits, is getting one of these waivers. Monte Shaw with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says they’ve heard Exxon Mobile could have a waiver as well.
Shaw is concerned a lack of transparency could involve insider dealing, “This is a Clean Air Act environmental program. If someone is seeking a waiver from it, the public has a right to know who is seeking those waivers, they have a right to know on what criteria those waivers will be based, and they have a right to know who has been granted those waivers. And the EPA is putting that all in a black box.”
Shaw adds under the Bush and Obama administrations, when waivers were allowed, the EPA would spread the obligated RINS among the remaining refiners.
He says EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt this year is giving waivers after allocating renewable fuel volume obligations for everyone else, “So, every small refiner exception that he grants, actually lowers the 15 billion gallons, we’ve heard there could be 500 to a billion gallons of these things granted. This is the biggest assault on the RFS that we’ve seen to date and it must be stopped.”