The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted some refineries full hardship waivers for the 2018 compliance year, despite recommendations from the Department of Energy to issue partial (50%) exemptions for those facilities, according to an EPA memo dated Aug. 9 that was seen by Reuters. The news is likely to anger the biofuel and corn sector that was already disgruntled by the Trump administration’s decision to grant 31 full small refinery exemptions, in essence lowering biofuel blending mandates under levels required under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The Trump administration has promised a “giant package” that we hear will include reallocation of the roughly 4 billion gallons of ethanol that have been waived over the past three years on a rolling basis. But given all the back and forth on the topic, including recent meetings with oil industry stakeholders, the verdict on this is still out.
Our sources say Trump has washed his hands of the issue, with the ball now in Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow’s hands. That could mean changes from what was initially in the package.