New Legislation Introduced to Cut Compliance Costs, Protect Jobs, and Foster Innovation in Energy Sector

United States Capitol© Amy Sparwasser / Getty Images / Canva

Yesterday, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-5), and Brendan Boyle (D-PA-2) introduced the Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production & Independence Act to bring down rising compliance costs associated with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ensure our Nation’s independent refiners can afford to continue production. This legislation will protect the jobs of refinery workers while also creating a new revenue stream that would fund investments in conservation, agricultural production, and advanced biofuel development.

“The skyrocketing price of RFS compliance is threatening our Nation’s refining capacity and the futures of thousands of skilled union workers and their families across the Northeast,” Senator Casey said. “The Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production & Independence Act will provide certainty and predictability for the workers at merchant refineries like the Monroe Energy Refinery in Marcus Hook, all while supporting the transition to renewable fuels.”

“The RFS program continues to create significant uncertainty and high compliance costs for small refineries like Delaware City Refinery in my home state. We can and must do more to address volatile and soaring compliance costs driven by fuel mandates that are out of step with domestic fuel demand,” Senator Coons said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues on this legislation to provide certainty and stability for small refineries and the good-paying union jobs they create.”

“In the midst of market uncertainty and fluctuating fuel costs, Congress has a responsibility to provide American workers and refineries with greater predictability,” Congressman Fitzpatrick said. “Our bipartisan bill ensures market stability by requiring the issuance of renewable fuel credits at a lower and fixed price, as well as invests in innovations in biofuels and environmental conservation. I am grateful to this coalition of my House and Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle for their partnership on the Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production and Independence Act of 2023.”

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“As a union electrician, I installed transmission cables at refineries along the Delaware River. They are critical to our national and regional economies and our workforce in South Jersey,” Rep. Norcross said. “While I support the intention for RINs to be an eco-friendly policy that facilitates the transition to renewable fuels, the outdated RIN system isn’t working. This arbitrary system has led to sky-high compliance costs that threaten our economy, national security, and union workers at these refineries. That’s why I’m introducing this legislation to control the volatility of the RINs market, strengthen our energy security, and provide certainty for our economy and workforce as we transition to a greener energy sector.”

“America must invest in an independent and sustainable energy future in order to ensure market stability and curb the worst impacts of climate change,” Rep. Scanlon said. “By updating the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – a decades-old program vital to reducing carbon dioxide emissions – this bill creates new revenue streams that support conservation and low-carbon energies while stabilizing an industry that employs thousands of union workers in our region. The Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production and Independence Act of 2023 is a critical step forward towards a better, cleaner energy future.”

“This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is a crucial step in addressing Renewable Fuel Standard compliance costs,” Congressman Boyle said. “These costs pose a threat to the livelihoods of thousands of skilled laborers in our region. This legislation will help union workers by ensuring renewable fuel credits are issued at a lower, fixed cost for compliance, creating a new source of revenue to fund critical activities in this field.”

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The Renewable Fuel Standard was created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the United States’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil. In order to comply with the RFS, refiners must submit credits known as Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), which in recent years have sharply risen in price. As compliance costs have surged, many refiners are now spending more on RINs than all other operating costs combined, putting their long-term viability at risk.

The Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production & Independence Act will reduce the cost of the RFS without adversely impacting ethanol consumption. Specifically, this bill would direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue and sell “conventional biofuel waiver credits” at a low, fixed price for refiners to use for RFS compliance if they are unable to obtain RINs cost effectively in the marketplace. The program would operate similarly to EPA’s waiver credit program for cellulosic biofuel.

The creation of a conventional biofuel waiver credit would create a new revenue stream that would be directed toward the following activities:

  • Grants and technical assistance for petroleum refiners to make investments in the development and deployment of advanced biofuels, such as sustainable aviation fuel or clean hydrogen.
  • Financial and technical assistance for agricultural producers to support investments in advanced biofuel crops and diversified cropping systems.
  • Conservation funding to support wildlife and habitat restoration in areas that have experienced significant land-use conversion.

The bill is endorsed by the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, the Delaware County Council, the Greater Reading Chamber, the Pilot’s Association for the Bay and River Delaware, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Ironworkers Local 401, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Boilermakers Local 13, IBEW Local 654, IBEW Local 98, IUPAT District Council 21, Laborers’ Local 413, the National Wildlife Federation, NECA Penn-Del-Jersey, the PA Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Bus Association, the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, the Philadelphia Area Labor Management Committee, the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades, Philaport, the Pittsburgh Area Airport Chamber of Commerce, Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 19, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia Plumbers Local 690, Sprinkler Fitters 692, Steamfitters Local 420, the United Steelworkers International, and USW Local 10-234. You can read a full list of endorsements here.

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Read more about the Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production & Independence Act here.

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