Small refinery waivers are the newest trend in Trump’s oil and gas give-a-ways. This comes on top of giving oil companies free reign to drill on our federal lands, jettisoning the Paris Climate Accord, promising the Keystone XL Pipeline, and opening up fragile arctic ecosystems to drilling. Now Trump is giving oil and gas companies a blanket pass on federal rules to blend low-carbon renewable biofuels into the auto fuel supply.
The waivers are meant to provide relief to small refineries who are experiencing “undue hardship” in meeting Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending rules, which were passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2005 and expanded in 2007. EPA data shows that during Obama’s last three years the administration approved 23 waiver applications and denied 18 – exempting 690 million gallons of gas from biofuel blending. Updated information shows Trump continues to approve 2017 applications, totaling 34 approvals as of March 19, 2019. While some applications are pending or withdrawn, Trump has not made a formal denial.
IN THE ERA OF TRUMP, EVEN EXXON GETS A WAIVER
Trump’s Administration has not denied a single waiver request from 2016 and 2017. Unabashedly quadrupling the annual average, this allowed 2.6 billion gallons to get a free-pass from renewable biofuel blending in two short years. The 57 companies exempted include major, global companies like Exxon and Chevron.
It’s hard to imagine economic hardship for companies like Exxon and Chevron. In their fourth quarter, Exxon earned $6 billion, totaling $20.8 billion in 2018.
In the past, eligible companies had to prove need and produce less than 75,000 barrels a day. Exxon and Chevron produce more than three million barrels each day, Prioritizing oil and gas waivers above a cleaner, renewable energy mix is irresponsible, and a political favor Americans cannot afford.
RENEWABLE BIOFUELS SUPPORT RURAL COMMUNITIES
The RFS supports stable jobs and continued investments for a green economy. The renewable biofuels industry provides 340,000 good paying U.S. jobs and reduces greenhouse gases by 43 percent compared to gasoline. Clear standards and expectations have allowed the industry to invest billions and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, while having a positive impact on our environment.
WAIVERS JEOPARDIZE BIOFUEL PRODUCTION AND RURAL ECONOMIES
In 2018, the University of Missouri Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) estimated the ethanol industry would lose 4.6 billion gallons of domestic demand and $20 billion in revenue. Farmers face enough uncertainty thanks to Trump’s trade wars. Losses caused by these waivers threaten the economic lifeline and the investments that renewable biofuels give rural towns and our renewable future.
Allowing the one-percenters of the oil and gas industry to skirt the rules and prioritize traditionally extracted fossil fuels is a disservice to America and our environmental goals. Americans needs leaders who will implement the RFS as written and intended, allow E15 year-round, and limit these waivers to the truly small refineries they were meant for.