Despite the Biden administration’s promises to get the RFS back on track, his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once again issued unachievable ethanol blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In doing so, the President is failing to protect refinery workers and our nation’s energy security. Independent refiners will thus continue to spend more on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) compliance credits yearly, than they do on salaries, benefits, maintenance and utility costs combined – endangering high-quality union jobs, threatening American energy security, and forcing higher energy prices, which are rising again.
Thankfully, several members of Congress are stepping in to fill the leadership void. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01), Brendan Boyle (D-PA-02), and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-05), have introduced the Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production and Independence Act, legislation that seeks to stabilize the unpredictable, unsustainable price of RINs.
If passed into law, this commonsense, bipartisan bill would direct EPA to issue and sell “conventional biofuel waiver credits” at a low, fixed price, allowing refiners to comply with the RFS conventional biofuel requirement if they are unable to obtain RINs cost effectively in the unregulated marketplace, similar to EPA’s cellulosic biofuel waiver credit. Affordable RINs would protect tens of thousands of working families who rely on refinery jobs, while lowering costs for consumers and supporting America's energy security and independence.
EPA’s decision to ignore the widespread pleas for RFS reform is already having harmful effects on American consumers. As this blog has extensively chronicled, whenever EPA sets unachievable ethanol blending requirements, it creates RIN scarcity and drives up their costs astronomically. Furthermore, the high costs of RINs effectively act as a hidden tax on domestic fuel supplies, forcing Americans to pay more for gasoline and diesel without knowing the reason. Experts say the RFS adds up to 30 cents per gallon to the price of gasoline, diesel, and even home heating oil.
Despite the RFS adding as much as $30 billion annually to consumer and business fuel costs, the Biden administration has once again ignored calls for RFS reform, while setting blending volumes nearly one billion gallons higher than what the Energy Information Agency estimates can be physically consumed given engine and infrastructure constraints. To make matters worse, EPA’s finalized rules cover three years – meaning consumers will shoulder artificially inflated gasoline prices until 2026.
Broader Congressional support for the Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production and Independence Act is crucial. Without its passage, Americans will continue to suffer inflated prices at the pump of up to 30 cents more per gallon due to a program that is operating differently than Congress originally intended — with imported biofuels being used to comply with a law meant to encourage American energy independence. Instead, we have the specter of more independent refineries potentially closing their doors for good.
That is why labor leaders are calling for Congress to pass this legislation, including the United Steelworkers, which represents more than 30,000 refinery workers:
“The bipartisan, bicameral Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production & Independence Act is a crucial step in addressing RFS compliance costs and reducing the possibility of market manipulation by bad actors. RFS compliance costs pose a threat to the livelihoods of thousands of skilled laborers in every region of this country, and needlessly threaten domestic refining capacity at a time when consumers are struggling to keep up with the cost of gasoline,” Thomas M. Conway, International President of the United Steelworkers, in a recent letter to Congress.
The Biden administration failed to reform the dysfunctional RFS - now it’s up to Congress to pick up the torch on behalf of union workers, American energy security, and millions of American consumers who want lower prices at the pump. Please tell your member of Congress to vote for the Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production and Independence Act, lower fuel prices, and protect America’s energy security and independence.