EPA greenlights GAO investigation into small refinery exemption program

The EPA has agreed to provide the Government Accountability Office information on the small refinery exemption program withheld by the previous administration.

Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper tells Brownfield the request dates back to 2019 when members of the House Biofuels Caucus asked the GAO to conduct a formal investigation into the secretive process behind granting waivers.

Despite three separate requests, he says former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stonewalled the government watchdog.

“So I think folks kind of gave up on this inquiry and this investigation until just here in the last few weeks when it became clear that EPA, under new leadership, is now saying they have an obligation to answer this request from GAO and provide this information.”

EPA says it will release all documents and data related to all small refinery exemption petitions received since the beginning of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Cooper thinks the findings will raise some eyebrows and he suggests that’s why the previous administration refused to cooperate.

“They know there’s probably things in there that are going to raise some serious questions about what was going on at EPA, and the Department of Energy by the way, over the last several years as all of these exemptions were being granted.”

Cooper says the GAO report should be helpful in instructing EPA on how to fix the small refinery exemption program and restore integrity to the RFS.

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