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Proposals such as Green New Deal part of 'new political reality'

The leader of the organization that lobbies on behalf of U.S. refining and petrochemical interests said proposals such as the Green New Deal are part of "our new political reality" after the Democrats took control of the lower house of the U.S. Congress in January.

"This proposal might seem so extreme that you don't want to take it seriously, and you might not think that anyone else would either," American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers, or AFPM, President and CEO Chet Thompson said March 18 in remarks kicking off the organization's annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. "That would be a mistake on our part. Today the Green New Deal is endorsed by more than 100 members of Congress and at least six major presidential candidates."

"We must engage by making sure consumers know what really is at stake," Thompson said. "Fossil fuel and petrochemical products form the underpinning of the global economy and provide the building blocks for thousands of innovations that make our modern lives possible."

Thompson said refining and petrochemical products not only provide for the movement of individuals and goods but are also used in wind turbines and solar panels.

For the past couple of years, the AFPM and the U.S. auto industry have been exploring a proposal to boost U.S. gasoline octane standards to a research octane number of 95, Thompson said.

"Done correctly, replacing the [renewable fuel standard] with a 95-RON standard for new automobiles would have the emission-reduction equivalent of adding 720,000 [electric vehicles] on the road each year," Thompson said. "This … is roughly double the amount of EVs that were actually sold in this country last year."

This year, Thompson said the AFPM would be calling on Congress to approve the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, also known as NAFTA 2.0, reject calls to expand EV tax credits, and to reform the renewable fuel standard, or RFS, program and vehicle fuel economy mandates. He also called on the Trump administration to end the trade war with China.

After Thompson's remarks, the AFPM awarded U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a leadership award for his advocacy for the oil and petroleum industry, which included helping to drive RFS compliance costs lower.

In 2018, the U.S. EPA became more liberal in granting RFS compliance exemptions to refineries with a processing capacity of less than 75,000 barrels per day.

Cruz said the EPA's policy had lowered the cost of compliance credits, known as RINs, from nearly 90 cents to around 13.5 cents, and noted that the Senate's vote to confirm Andrew Wheeler as EPA administrator hinged in part on Wheeler's promise to continue the RFS waiver policy.

"We're going to hold the EPA and the administrator to those commitments. Those were public commitments that were necessary for his confirmation and [with which] we expect he will follow through," Cruz said.