An ad campaign airing across four states and in Washington, D.C., is asking President Donald Trump to protect small refineries, and the jobs and economic impact the facilities bring to the community.
Derrick Morgan, senior vice president of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, explained on Friday that in the ad, the industry group is asking the president to “stay the course on small refinery exemption waivers” regarding ethanol mandates.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated the blending of renewable fuels, like corn-based ethanol, into gasoline and diesel. A complex system is in place to make sure a certain amount of blending is done, and it imposes a financial hardship on smaller refiners, according to industry representatives.
Congress agreed, and the Environmental Protection Agency is able to grant waivers to refiners of less than 75,000 barrels a day. Included in this group of small refiners are American Refining Group in Bradford and United Refining in Warren, Morgan said.
“The president has been hearing from the agricultural community about the renewable fuel standard,” he explained. “They want to see that program increase. We’re concerned about it for smaller refineries.”
Current federal law says the government must provide some assistance to smaller refineries in the form of exemption waivers. These waivers have little to no effect on overall ethanol output or gasoline blending, yet eliminating them would create more job losses in the fuel refining industry than could feasibly be saved or created in the agriculture industry, according to AFPM.
“Our ad campaign is encouraging the president not to get rid of this exemption all together,” Morgan explained. Ending this exemption could impact 28,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone, he said.
“That’s been part of the discussions with the administration,” Morgan said. “The president promised to help manufacturers. These are the kind of manufacturing backbone jobs that have a ripple effect on the community.”
Morgan said U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., “has been absolutely dogged in his support for refiners. We’ve appreciated his help.”
For his part, the senator said the waiver program must continue.
“Refineries provide family sustaining wages to thousands of Pennsylvania workers,” Toomey said. “EPA and the courts have made clear that waivers must be issued to refineries suffering severe economic harm from the ill-conceived corn ethanol mandate. The waivers simply diminish the burden of this terrible mandate on the refineries least able to afford it, and therefore allow them to continue doing business. With this in mind, Administrator (Andrew) Wheeler and President Trump should continue working to bolster our flourishing energy sector, not undermine it.”
In Bradford, officials at ARG confirmed they are members of the AFPM, but were not aware of the ad campaign.
ARG President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Giberson said, “Political affiliations aside, we support balanced environmental legislation of all kinds. Environmental stewardship and profitable business go hand in hand; they are not mutually exclusive ideas. We can be realistic about sustainability while protecting jobs.”
Giberson recalled similar environmental legislation, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Pennsylvania’s proposed Chapter 78 rules surrounding oil and gas production. ARG petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency for hardship relief from RFS obligations due to its refinery’s much smaller size, and has lobbied with industry associations for segregating conventional and unconventional producers with regard to the environmental requirements they each must meet.
He said, “We are committed to environmental compliance that is not a one-size-fits-all mandate. Processing 10,000 barrels of crude oil per day, ARG is considered a small refiner, but we are held to the exact same regulations applied to diversified refiners processing hundreds of thousands of barrels per day.
“Similarly, we support our local, shallow-well producers in fighting for common-sense regulation that both protects our environment and draws the important distinction between conventional and unconventional production. This type of balanced, considered legislation will ensure family-supporting jobs and a healthy environment long into the future.”
The AFPM ad is running on stations in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, along with D.C.