Coons not happy with renewable fuel standard seen as threat to future of Delaware City refinery

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U.S. Senator Chris Coons took aim at the Environmental Protection Agency’s final Renewable Fuel Standard rule that threatens the future of smaller refineries in the Mid-Atlantic.

“I am disappointed by the final RFS rule issued today by the EPA, which does not adequately address the challenges and high costs it will bring to small refineries like the Delaware City Refinery and the union workers employed there. While I appreciate the EPA’s goal to advance our energy security and utilize renewable fuels, the rule’s high blending requirements are significantly above our domestic consumption capacity and will endanger union refineries across the mid-Atlantic,” Coons stated. “That’s why I’m working with Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) on legislation that will contain the soaring compliance costs associated with the program and provide certainty to our nation’s independent refineries by stabilizing and reducing costs for renewable fuel credits. I look forward to working with the Biden administration, my congressional colleagues, and our state’s organized labor and farming communities to find a path forward on the RFS in a way that bolsters our energy independence, secures clean energy investments for Delaware, and protects union jobs.”

Under the RFS, refiners must either blend biofuels into their refined products or purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). RINs have come with high prices in recent years, creating difficulties for independent refineries – like the Delaware City Refinery – that must purchase RINs because of their limited capacity to blend biofuels into their products.

Smaller refineries not owned by “big oil” have warned that their existence is threatened by current RIN rules.

Despite close ties to a Biden Administration focusing on union jobs, Coons and others have been unable to move the needle on reducing the RIN burden.

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Agricultural interests in the Midwest continue to push for the current system, despite mixed evidence that biofuels improve the environment. Much of the production comes from converting corn kernels into ethanol, which must be transported by rail. The use of corn also adds to food prices during a period of inflation that has seen spikes in grocery store prices. Midwestern corn is also a key feedstock for Delaware’s poultry industry.

Senator Coons said he supports investments in producing sustainable fuels that will help reduce exposure to volatile RIN prices.

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