The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is one of America’s great success stories, and the bedrock policy that forged our nation’s biofuels industry. It provides consumers with real choice and savings at the pump, while strengthening our rural economy, lowering our carbon footprint, and delivering greater energy independence by requiring a modest but growing amount of biofuels be blended into our nation’s transportation fuel mix.  Today, 98 percent of gasoline in the U.S. contains about 10 percent ethanol.

At Growth Energy, we believe the RFS should be faithfully executed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Congress intended, and that EPA should not undermine the policy and increase consumer fuel costs, hurt our economy, and hinder progress toward our environmental goals.

Growth Energy will continue to support:

  • Applying the 10th Circuit Court decision nationwide and rejecting any “gap year” SRE petitions that violate the court’s ruling.
  • Reigning in EPA’s abuse of small refinery exemptions (SREs), returning integrity and transparency to the decision-making process, and ensuring gallons lost to SREs are accounted for in future blending targets.
  • Ensuring EPA guarantees15 billion gallons of domestic ethanol consumption as Congress intended and the law requires.

Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs)

The 2005 RFS allowed small refineries with a production capacity less than 75,000 barrels per day to be temporarily exempted from the law’s blending requirements. When the RFS was expanded in 2007, EPA extended these exemptions until 2011 and required small refineries to demonstrate “disproportionate economic hardship” to qualify for future waivers. Starting with 2016 the compliance period, EPA rapidly increased the number of SREs, granting 85 over three years and removing 4 billion gallons of biofuels from the marketplace.

10th Circuit Court Decision

In January 2020, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a unanimous decision that invalidated SREs granted by EPA to three refineries for the 2016-2017 compliance years, ruling that:

  • EPA cannot extend SREs to refineries that had not received SREs continuously in previous years.
  • Any finding of “disproportionate economic hardship” must be tied solely to RFS compliance.
“Gap Year” SRE Petitions

In response to this decision, refineries submitted more than 70 SRE petitions reaching back to 2011 to retroactively establish a continuous stream of SREs year-to-year. While EPA has rejected a majority of the so-called “gap year” SRE petitions, a number have yet to be addressed.


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To achieve net-zero emissions and decarbonize the transportation sector, biofuels must be part of the solution. According to recent scientific research from @rhodium_group, #biofuels must play a role in our nation's climate agenda that @POTUS has put into place. #ClimateChange https://t.co/9QIfRdcihX

via @GrowthEnergy

Our friends at @mncorn announced a commitment of $1 million for ethanol infrastructure grant programs. This is huge investment in the future of higher blends of ethanol, and we look forward to working together to increase access to lower-carbon fuels! growthenergy.org/2021/04/15/min…

via @GrowthEnergy

.@POTUS's infrastructure plan should include expanding access to low carbon #biofuels, like plant-based ethanol, that can help us reduce emissions today. Thank you @RepCindyAxne. twitter.com/RepCindyAxne/s…

via @GrowthEnergy

.@RepCindyAxne is fighting to include #biofuels in any infrastructure legislation to be considered by Congress. To decarbonize the transportation sector, low-carbon fuel options like biofuels MUST be part of the solution. Thank you for taking action! twitter.com/RepCindyAxne/s…

via @GrowthEnergy