Natural gas tanks in oil refinery against clear sky (Getty Images).
Congressional lawmakers from the Mid-Atlantic region announced new legislation on Tuesday that they say will protect union refinery jobs while also supporting the ongoing transition to renewable energy by lowering federal fuel compliance costs.
The Safeguarding Domestic Energy Production & Independence Act is being introduced by Capitol Hill lawmakers from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey as a way to cut costs and save jobs at Mid-Atlantic refineries.
The legislation’s sponsors include Democratic U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania, and Chris Coons, of Delaware; as well as U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District, Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District; and Donald Norcross, D-N.J.
Lawmakers said the bill would reduce Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance costs for domestic refineries, which requires refineries to submit Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) each year showing the amount of renewable fuel blended into the transportation fuel supply.
Recently, however, refiners have limited blending capacity and cannot generate enough RINs to meet their annual RFS obligations, which they make up for by purchasing RINs on the secondary market, where prices have increased significantly and remain unpredictable, increasing by more than 1,500 % and leading many refineries to shutter.
“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,” Casey said on Tuesday. “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.”
Casey said the act would accomplish this by directing the 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 affordably acquire RINs in the marketplace.
Revenue generated from the conventional biofuel waiver credit would fund investments in renewable energy, conservation, and agriculture, such as advanced biofuel crops and diversified cropping systems, according to the lawmakers.
“In the midst of market uncertainty and fluctuating fuel costs, Congress has a responsibility to provide American workers and refineries with greater predictability,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “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.”
Environmental groups, business and economic groups and a slew of unions from across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have already endorsed the bill, including:
- Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry,
- The Greater Reading Chamber, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters
- Ironworkers Local 401,
- The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers,
- 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, t
- 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.
“This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is a crucial step in addressing Renewable Fuel Standard compliance costs,” Boyle said in a statement. “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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