The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy filed a lawsuit in federal district court, alleging that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) have improperly denied agency records requested by RFA, Growth Energy, and others under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The requested documents relate to exemptions from Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance obligations granted by EPA.
“As recently as November of 2016, EPA itself has proposed a rule that would make basic information regarding small refiner exemptions available to the public, including the name of the refinery requesting the exemption, its location, and the nature of the relief requested. EPA has admitted that such information should not be treated as confidential,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “So, why is EPA continuing to hide this information from public scrutiny and protect both the previous EPA administrator and highly profitable refiners who probably exploited and abused the exemption provision? Because EPA and DOE both ignored our repeated requests for basic information on the exemptions, we had no choice but to take this legal action. America’s ethanol producers, who are experiencing economic hardship because of EPA’s mishandling of the small refiner exemptions, deserve to know what was happening behind the curtain at EPA. We will continue to fight and take every action necessary to ensure the RFS is implemented and enforced as intended by Congress.”
“EPA should come clean and provide the public with what it deserves – a full accounting of the stark increase in the number of small refinery exemptions it has granted in recent years,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We deserve to know why EPA has supercharged its approvals of these exemptions without reallocating lost gallons and making sure that RFS volumes are met each year.”
RFA and Growth Energy are the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Both RFA and Growth Energy have submitted several records requests dating back to April 2018 seeking information related to exemptions from the RFS that EPA has granted to small refineries in complete secrecy. EPA and DOE have failed to act within the timeframes required by FOIA and have improperly withheld the requested documents.
By filing this lawsuit now, RFA, Growth Energy and their allies in the renewable fuel industry aim to increase transparency and foster better oversight of EPA’s use of small refinery exemptions.