It’s Fossil Fools Day—but the EPA’s not joking around

April 1, 2020
It's a new month. Today, we're taking a look at recent misguided decisions by the EPA, as well as a must-listen radio interview with BIO CEO Jim Greenwood on what the industry's doing about coronavirus and why the drug pricing debate still matters. Here are 800 words,…

It's a new month. Today, we're taking a look at recent misguided decisions by the EPA, as well as a must-listen radio interview with BIO CEO Jim Greenwood on what the industry's doing about coronavirus and why the drug pricing debate still matters. Here are 800 words, about 4 minutes.

It’s Fossil Fools Day—but the EPA’s not joking around

April 1st is April Fool’s Day, but we don’t feel right playing tricks today when so many are suffering. Instead, we’ll mark Fossil Fools Day—because recent decisions by the Environmental Protection Agency to waive biofuel requirements are, unfortunately, not a joke. 

To recap: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires oil refineries to mix a certain percentage of biofuel in U.S. transportation fuel, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can issue waivers to the requirements to small refineries—and has issued an unprecedented number of them in recent years.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA needed to revisit some of these exemptions—and it was thought the EPA might apply the ruling nationwide. 

But now, the EPA says they will not revisit the exemptions and will wait for the appeals process to play out—and worse, will extend the deadline for small refineries to comply with the biofuels requirements for this year, citing the need to give oil refineries flexibility during the pandemic.

But they’re forgetting about biofuels producers—who were already suffering due to the unprecedented number of exemptions to the rule, the trade war, and now, the pandemic and its impact on the economy.

But we need biofuels more than ever, to help clean up air pollution, which exacerbates the symptoms of the coronavirus, and to help rural economies and create jobs in this time of crisis. 

We can, in fact, take action on the pandemic, the economy, and the climate at the same time—and biofuels could help us deal with all three priorities.

Sage Words from Stephanie: Unfortunately, it seems the EPA is exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to avoid enforcing the Renewable Fuel Standard as intended by law—and as the 10th Circuit recently reaffirmed when it deemed the abundance of SREs granted by the EPA illegal. The decisions to roll back enforcement of the RFS and other auto emissions restrictions are diminishing much-needed support for a home-grown biofuels industry, which could help clean up the air and ignite rural economies at a time when they need it most. Pollution from the burning of fossil fuels will only compound the health impacts of those susceptible to the virus. We need clean-burning sustainable fuels more than ever and these decisions by the EPA are damaging the industry. – Stephanie Batchelor, VP of BIO’s Industrial and Environment Section

More Agriculture and Environment News:

Washington Post: The Energy 202: Trump administration moves forward with looser air rules as respiratory grips U.S. 

"The Trump administration is moving forward with easing restrictions on air pollution even as the novel coronavirus — and the deadly respiratory disease it causes — grips the country. "

Associated Press: FDA changes boost alcohol for sanitizer from ethanol makers 


Jim talks cures and the need to fix out-of-pocket costs

Here’s your soundtrack for your solitary walk today: BIO CEO Jim Greenwood recently spoke to WWDB-AM Philadelphia about what the industry’s doing to beat the coronavirus, as well as how we can ensure people can afford their medicine, for this disease or others.

BIO’s on the frontlines of coronavirus cures—he explained, helping companies share information and science because “there are lives on the line, thousands and thousands of them.” 

And already, there are several promising medicines in the pipeline, like Gilead’s remdesivir, Regeneron’s lung treatment, and Moderna’s vaccine, to name just a few. (You can find more at

The industry is focused on finding treatments, diagnostics, and cures, full stop. “We’re the people who are trying to save lives.” he explained. “We’re not thinking about money, we’re not thinking about commercial opportunities.”

But the coronavirus shows us why we need to fix out-of-pocket costs, too. “The science is taking off, and it’s going to mean so much for people,” he said. “The problem is too much money has to come out of their pocket sometimes…and that’s why we need to limit the deductibles for drugs." 

This is possible if we keep two principles in mind: “No one should ever do without the medicine they need because they can’t afford what’s required to come from their pocket,” he said. “And no policy should ever disincentivize investment into these biopharmaceutical companies.” 

Listen to the 25-minute interview here.


More Health Care News:

Biopharma Dive: A small NASH drugmaker finds positive data, but coronavirus makes for a 'tricky' path forward
“Akero's data show study participants who were given AKR-001 experienced greater liver fat reduction than those given a placebo.” 

Biopharma Dive: No sanctions for Novartis as FDA ends review
“’FDA has completed its review of the information and records of the inspection, the evidence collected, and the firm's responses as well as the corrective actions to the inspectional observations, and the agency has classified the inspection as Voluntary Action Indicated,’ the FDA spokesperson said.” 

NPR: HHS to help companies develop COVID-19 vaccines
“HHS's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, BARDA, said Monday that it will help speed up clinical trials for both companies' experimental vaccines, and support Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, in making up to 300 million doses annually in the U.S.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Wednesday: POLITICO says Trump’s coronavirus bounce “fizzles.” The Coronavirus Task Force is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 5pm ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Still on coronavirus recess.

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