A Reuters’ article published Monday about the EPA’s supposedly preferential treatment of a former Trump administration adviser and opponent of the biofuels mandate appears to contain one glaring omission.
The agency exempted billionaire Carl Icahn’s oil refinery from requirements under a federal biofuels law, Reuters reported without noting if the facility qualified for a waiver. Icahn acted as an adviser to President Donald Trump before leaving as critics dinged him for not disclosing his lobbying efforts.
CVR Energy’s waiver allows the refiner to avoid millions of dollars in costs related to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), an EPA program designed to support corn farmers by forcing refiners to mix biofuels into the country’s gasoline supply. Refiners argue complying with the mandate is wreaking havoc on the industry.
Small refineries of under 75,000 barrels per day (bpcd) from the requirement if they prove the mandate will cause “disproportionate financial hardship.” CVR Energy’s Wynnewood, Oklahoma, facility received the waiver partially because it produces 74,500 bpcd at maximum capacity, according to the company’s website.
Reuters’ write-up fails to mention CVR’s capacity, but it did note how the waiver has sparked fresh criticism from Iowa’s corn lobby, which has continually accused Trump’s EPA of over-distributing exemptions in a way that hurts demand for ethanol.
“This one’s going to be hard for (Scott) Pruitt to explain,” Brooke Coleman, head of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council industry group, told Reuters in an April 27 interview. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt floated the possibility of defanging aspects of the RFS until several Republican lawmakers complained.
Lawmakers accused Icahn earlier in 2018 of using his working relationship with President Donald Trump to push a rule change to the renewable fuel program that would have benefited his refining business. His efforts to change the program were rendered moot after Trump decided to scuttle any proposed changes.
They allege that Icahn, whose Icahn Enterprises owns 82 percent of refiner CVR Energy, tried pushing Trump into removing the requirement that fuel refiners buy credits if they don’t blend enough biofuels.
CVR Energy accumulated a large short position in biofuel credits called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), which refiners are required to purchase. CVR Energy would have profited greatly if the price of RINs tumbled.
Trump, like most of his Republican opponents, campaigned during the presidential election on maintaining the standard as a sop to Iowa farmers dependent on the high-priced corn-based fuel. But recent reports suggest that Pruitt is determined to slash RIN prices.
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