Coons not happy with EPA on renewables system that independent refiners see as a threat to their future


U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, in a rare break with the Biden Administration, criticized an Environmental Protection Agency plan to increase obligations for the use of renewables in motor fuel.

At issue is the RFS system, which is used in determining the use of renewables in fuels, `but at the same time, puts independent refining companies at risk of closing. Delaware has an independent PBF Energy refinery in Delaware City.

“The renewable fuels volumes proposed by the EPA today are not achievable and do not reflect the challenges Delawareans face at the pump because of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. The cost of complying with the RFS is at a record high because the volumes don’t align with what our country can actually produce and consume. I appreciate the administration’s recognition of the difficulties for independent refiners to comply with the RFS and the need to maintain our refining capacity, but I am disappointed by the uncertainty this proposed rule creates for Delaware’s skilled union workers,” Coons stated.


“I urge Delawareans to comment on this proposed rule. I remain committed to working with the Biden administration, my congressional colleagues, and our state’s organized labor and farming communities both to find a path forward on the RFS and to secure clean energy investments in our state that will support our union jobs and energy independence,” Coons added.

Under the RFS, refiners are obligated to either blend biofuels into their refined products or purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). RINs have reached historically high prices in recent years, creating difficulties for independent refineries.

Coons said he has pushed for solutions to the issue for years., including supporting investments in the production of sustainable fuels that will help reduce exposure to volatile RIN prices. The EPA will take public comments on the proposed rule, and the final rule is due in June 2023.

The RIN system and renewable fuel standards survived the controversial Trump Administration actions at the EPA. Renewable fuels, despite claims that producing largely corn-kernel-based gasohol, consumes vast amounts of energy and increases food costs. The system has strong support in “corn belt” states like Iowa. Transporting alcohol-based fuel is expensive, since it requires trains rather than pipelines.

Fueling America’s Jobs, a group comprised of independent refiners and unions, issued the following

“President Biden must not allow America’s energy independence to become a victim of the broken RFS program. American consumers are counting on independent refiners to supply transportation fuel and home heating oil, and offset the costs of Putin’s war against Ukraine. Yet, as it stands, EPA’s proposed biofuel blending levels spell financial disaster for America’s remaining independent refiners.”

According to the group the RFS functions as a hidden tax on domestic fuel supplies, adding an estimated $30 billion to fuel costs and 20 to 30 cents per gallon to pump prices. The program’s RINs credit compliance system has benefitted major retailers and oil giants.