Republicans Claim EPA Leaks Are Starting To Seriously Harm Biofuels Industry

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Republican lawmakers are calling on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to more diligently protect the business information of small refiners from being leaked to media outlets.

Republican Sens John Barrasso of Wyoming and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are demanding Pruitt crackdown on leaks within his agency that harm small oil refiners, they argue. Both lawmakers have warned Pruitt in a March 5 letter about how leaks can compromise energy markets.

“We urge you, again, to ensure your staff and contractors do not disclose to any outside parties the confidential and other sensitive information of small refineries that petition for hardship relief,” they wrote in a letter Wednesday to Pruitt. Barrasso cited one April 3 Reuters article that used two anonymous sources to report the agency is giving select refiners waivers.

“Disclosure of this information would not only compound the harm to small refineries but may move markets for renewable identification numbers (RINs) and publicly traded companies,” the letter noted, referring to fees refiners must pay to opt out of the agency’s renewable fuel standard (RFS). Some refiners cite the RFS as one of the main culprits for a slew of bankruptcies within the industry.

For instance, low oil prices and high cost of complying with the program forced them into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Philadelphia Energy Solutions argued in January. Energy Transfer Partners’ Sunoco rescued the company from financial distress six years ago.

The beleaguered refiner secured access to $260 million in new financing and said it expected the bankruptcy filing to have no immediate impact on its employees, according to a January report from Reuters based on an internal memo from Philadelphia Energy Solutions. A spokeswoman for the company has not responded to reporters’ requests for comment.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions has plowed more than $800 million since 2012 on credits to comply with the law, which the EPA administers and requires refiners to blend biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply every year. The mandate is the company’s biggest expense, according to the memo.

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