DES MOINES -- On the heels of the Trump administration holding steady on the Renewable Fuel Standard last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has asked for a waiver from the law, citing economic worries.
Abbott made the request in a letter dated last Friday, a day after the EPA finalized renewable fuel volumes for 2018.
At 19.29 billion gallons, the volumes of renewables that must be blended into the nation's fuel supply are roughly the same as in 2017.
In his letter, Abbott said refiners are having difficulty with the RFS, especially because of the volatility and cost of the credits that demonstrate compliance. He noted that hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state are tied to the refinery and related industries.
"Yet the strength and resiliency of the industry — and by extension, Texas’ economy — is threatened by a restrictive federal mandate," Abbott wrote.
The credits, called RINs, are the currency of the RFS. Refiners earn them by blending renewables into the fuel supply or they can buy them from others.
Renewable fuels advocates said the request won't withstand scrutiny.
“Gov. Abbott’s waiver request doesn’t come anywhere close to meeting the very high threshold required by the statute for proving ‘severe harm,'" said Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive of the Renewable Fuels Association.
The association said renewables are helping the economy in Texas through ethanol production in the state and lower cost fuels that are now available.
The industry also disputes the idea that high cost credits are hurting the refiners. It says that refiners are recouping costs through higher margins.
The EPA's final renewable figures last week were met with mixed reaction in Iowa and the Midwest. The requirements for conventional renewable fuels, such as ethanol, were maintained but Midwest lawmakers and industry officials complained the biodiesel figure for 2019 fell short of the available capacity.
Refiners were disappointed, saying the Trump administration had caved to farm state political interests.