A travel center executive testifying on behalf of NATSO told a House panel that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is successfully incentivizing travel centers to incorporate advanced biofuels such as biodiesel into their fuel supply, but also warned that the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent practice of exempting certain refiners from their renewable fuels obligations undermines the law’s intent and decreases demand for biofuels.
Robin Puthusseril, vice president and co-owner of the Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza in Bolingbrook, Ill., testified on June 22 before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, NATSO says in a statement issued June 22. Puthusseril testified that over the past decade the RFS has succeeded because it allows fuel retailers to offer biofuel blends to consumers at a price that is less expensive than purely petroleum-based products.
Annual renewable fuel volume obligations established under the RFS are designed to create market certainty and encourage fuel retailers to invest in the infrastructure necessary to incorporate and sell biodiesel. Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza has been incorporating biodiesel into its supply for 12 years, investing more than $500,000 on new fuel tanks, dispenser lines and other infrastructure. “We do all of this, so we can offer the lowest priced fuel possible to our customers,” Puthusseril said.
Puthusseril testified that EPA’s recent practice of granting retroactive hardship exemptions to some refineries has functioned as de facto mandate cuts in the biofuel volume obligations. Retroactively issued waivers create market uncertainty, ultimately diminishing the value of the biodiesel investments that Congress encouraged fuel retailers to make when it developed the RFS, he said.
“It is imperative that EPA immediately re-evaluate its criteria for issuing the small refinery waivers,” Puthusseril testified. “Going forward, I would hope that EPA act in a manner that is more consistent with the RFS by requiring all waiver requests be received and assessed prior to finalizing biofuel mandates for a given compliance year.”
Puthusseril urged Subcommittee members to ensure that the EPA implements the RFS obligations in a stable, ambitious, and growth-oriented manner so that it continues to encourage the consumption of renewable fuels.
NATSO, based in Alexandria, Va., is the trade association of the U.S. travel plaza and truckstop industry.