EPA publishes data on ethanol rule exemptions

EPA publishes data on ethanol rule exemptions
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing more data on how it implements the federal mandate to blend ethanol into gasoline.

The new data portal on the EPA’s website is meant, in part, to allay complaints from the ethanol industry that the agency has been too opaque about how many small refineries are getting exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

In addition to data about refinery exemptions, the portal also includes the average weekly trading prices of renewable identification numbers — the tradable credits fuel refiners use to demonstrate compliance with the mandate — and the weekly volume of the trades.

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“For the first time, EPA is providing new information to the public on small refinery exemptions and RIN trading,” acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

“Increasing transparency will improve implementation of the RFS and provide stakeholders and the regulated community the certainty and clarity they need to make important business and compliance decisions.”

Ethanol and corn interests have objected in recent months to the EPA granting numerous “hardship” compliance waivers to small refineries, including those owned by big companies. The law that authorized the mandate requires that certain refineries get waivers, and a recent court ruling said the EPA was being too strict with its standards.

The Renewable Fuels Association welcomed the EPA’s move, though said the agency needs to be even more transparent, including disclosing the identities of the refiners that get exemptions.

“Today’s action may prevent small refiners from obtaining market-moving information before other participants in the marketplace. That’s important because it appears the RIN market was gamed earlier this year by a small group of refiners who were privy to sensitive information regarding compliance exemptions before the rest of the market knew what was going on,” Bob Dinneen, the group’s president, said in a statement.