Is the Chief Elections Officer guilty of misconduct in public office?

first_imgDear Editor,GECOM Chief Elections Officer, Mr Keith Lowenfield is a public officer holding a constitutional post. He has a fiduciary responsibility to discharge his responsibilities in a constitutional, legal, professional, and honest manner. To date, he has failed miserably at doing so. Hot off the heels of Local Government Elections (LGE), and immediately following the no-confidence motion on December 21, 2019, Mr Lowenfield should have moved into full action to organise for National and Regional Elections.In fact, he should have started preparations months ago, immediately following the motion being presented to Parliament on November 15. Instead, we have seen delay, prevarication and every tactic to frustrate the achievement of the constitutional deadline of March 20 to hold elections. By December 22, Mr Lowenfield should have submitted a detailed project plan to hold elections which should have been sent to every Commissioner of GECOM. To date, only a flimsy effort has been attempted. Why are taxpayers’ monies being wasted by such incompetence? Any capable person would have already sent a full and detailed project plan to execute elections by March 20. But not Mr Lowenfield! In my opinion, there is only one explanation—Mr Lowenfield has betrayed his professional and constitutional responsibility.In the circumstances, a full investigation should be launched into the conduct or misconduct of Mr Lowenfield. A professional manager would have presented, not later than two weeks after the motion was presented to the Parliament, a full playbook and project plan on achieving elections at the shortest possible time. So, despite over a month’s delay on having the no-confidence motion debated and over 42 days since that motion being passed (a total of 80 days since the motion was submitted), we are no closer to holding elections by the constitutional deadline. With such high salaries and budgets, Mr Lowenfield is either highly inept or simply a shrewd political operative of APNU/AFC who is abusing his constitutional position to delay elections.Perhaps his visas should be pulled, and criminal charges brought against him for misconduct in public office. I call on Mr Anil Nandlall to consider filing such actions immediately or the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to similarly do.We are now heading into a constitutional crisis and a proper plan to execute the elections by March 20 has not been submitted. All due to Mr Lowenfield. Of course, aided and abetted by the Chairman of the Elections Commission, who was neither fit nor proper, to occupy his position. Together, with APNU and AFC, it is yet another effort to manipulate the process of conducting free and fair elections. Bring on the charges immediately against Mr Lowenfield.Our Private Sector must also act in this regard by lobbying all the observers and diplomatic posts of the apparent misconduct of Mr Lowenfield. Letters to the Organisation of American States (OAS), Commonwealth Secretariat, Caricom, and other major Bodies, are now essential. Otherwise, Mr Lowenfield will continue to operate as an APNU political operative instead of conducting himself and the vast agency – GECOM – that he is responsible for, in a state of preparation to hold elections. After all, LGE elections were just held in November 2018 and all systems were tested and prepared.Let the bells toll. Mr Lowenfield is guilty of misconduct in public office. Start the prosecution. Cancel his visas. Let the world know that Mr Lowenfield is the key person about the plunge Guyana into a constitutional crisis, by failing to have GECOM ready to conduct elections by March 19, 2019.Sincerely,A Grantlast_img read more

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Reformed sex ed curriculum needed in schools

first_imgUG Turkeyen and Tain Talks 11The current Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) programme, offered in secondary schools, lacks relevance and is inadequate in meeting the needs of adolescents while denying them access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, according to the Guyana Equality Forum (GEF).GEF’s representative, Joel Simpson, made that statement at the University ofSt Stanislaus College Board of Governors Chairman, Chris FernandesGuyana’s 11th Turkeyen and Tain Talks on the topic “Education and Freedom: Education Reform and Socio-Economic Development in Guyana”.Simpson was one of the panellists at the Turkeyen and Tain Talks along with Chair of the Education Reform Commission, Ed Caesar; Chair of the St Stanislaus College Board of Governors, Chris Fernandes; Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson; Guyana Teachers Union General Secretary Coretta McDonald; National Science Coordinator Petal Punalall-Jetoo; Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Engagement, Professor Michael Scott; and Conservation International Guyana Vice President, Dr David Singh.In his presentation, Simpson said that the lack of comprehensive sexuality education, homophobic and transphobic bullying and school dropouts along with the gaps in the reintegration of teenaged mothers into the school system were issues that were deliberately ignored while discussing education reform.He noted that evaluations by the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) have shown that programmes on sexual education could help youths delay the onset of sexual activity, reduce risky sexual behaviour, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase responsible behaviour, includingGEF’s representative, Joel Simpsonprotection from HIV; Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy.In addition, he explained that the GRPA’s evaluations of the HFLE programme taught in public secondary schools in Guyana found that it ignored the basic human rights of young people by denying them critical information on a range of issues.“The GEF and GRPA view the HFLE programme as lacking relevance and inadequate to meet the needs of adolescents and denies them access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services,” Simpson noted.“Young people need honest, effective sex education that is comprehensive and rights based – not ineffective, shame-based abstinence-only programmes. The HFLE programme is a failure because it has not shown any positive changes in reducing teenage pregnancy and STIs in young people,” he added.Simpson called on the Education Ministry to work closely with civil society and key stakeholders to implement a comprehensive sexual education programme in the public school system while proving safe spaces for students to discuss sex and sexuality with counsellors.During his passionate presentation, Simpson, Managing Director of the LGBT advocacy group SASOD, noted that while there were rules for teachers to not discriminate against students based on ability, race, colour or creed, there were no rules that covered sexuality or gender identity.He added that LGBT students were dropping out of school because there were no laws, policies or mechanisms in Guyana to protect or offer redress to them when they experience stigma and discrimination in the education system. He noted that SASOD and the Guyana Trans United had documented instances where these students were discriminated in clear view of the teachers and nothing was being done to address the level of bullying.“In some instances, the discrimination of LGBT students are from the teachers themselves and in plain and open view for others to witness,” he noted.Additionally, Simpson said Guyana lacked any system to reintegrate teenaged mothers in the school system. He recommended that a reintegration policy be developed and implemented to ensure that girls could complete their secondary education after giving birth. He also suggested that the Education Ministry’s Policy on Discipline of Teachers’ Code of Conduct include sexual orientation and gender identity as protective categories from abuse and discrimination.Review management of Education MinistryMeanwhile, St Stanislaus College Board Chairman Fernandes noted that there was no short-term fix of the education system, adding that an extensive long-term plan was needed. He explained that Guyana was in a state where private schools were outperforming the public ones and those students from the private primary schools were gaining entry into the top public secondary schools, which undermines the goal of equal opportunity and equity in education.Fernandes told the gathering that it was his opinion that the management of the Education Ministry needed to be revised since the Ministers failed to consider their tenure as a long-term assignment.“They seem more interested in creating a public relations programme to make the results being achieved look good as they can during their period at the helm,” he noted.Education Minister Nicolette Henry was supposed to be one of the panellists at the event, but for some reason could not attend and sent her CEO.Fernandes explained that the day-to-day operations of the Education Ministry needed to be handled by someone who was highly-trained and qualified and supported by two equally qualified deputies.“Our emphasis should be for a total audit review of the management system of the Ministry in which the Minister should just be the executive chairman,” he submitted.CEO Hutson noted that the education system was a work in progress, adding that the Ministry was aware that there was much more to be done for the development of the sector.last_img read more

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Wildfire smoke advisory ended for Prince George and surrounding areas

first_imgHowever, the fires that were producing the smoke are still active and smoke conditions may vary rapidly as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.For more information on current quality of air, visit bcairquality.ca.- Advertisement –last_img

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Cardiff City 0-0 Bristol City: Severnside derby ends in stalemate in Wales

first_img Alex Revell The Severnside derby failed to spring to life as Cardiff and Bristol City played out a goalless draw in the Welsh capital.Elliot Bennett could have snatched it at the death for the visitors but his shot hit the woodwork, while Sammy Ameobi somehow fired wide from close in in injury time for Cardiff.The result leaves the Robins hovering over the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone, while the point puts Cardiff three points off the play-off places, but they will be left disappointed after spurning a host of chances.The Bluebirds controlled possession in the opening quarter, but it was the side from the over the bridge who had the best opportunities to break the deadlock.Home left-back Fabio was left exposed by wide midfielder Peter Whittingham which gave Bennett the freedom to flash menacing crosses across goal – but neither Aaron Wilbraham nor Luke Ayling could convert from close range.And the Robins lost one of their aerial threats to a hamstring injury after 24 minutes.Defender Nathan Baker was limping before he ignored a pass out from goalkeeper Frank Fielding and allowed Craig Noone a run and shot on goal which, luckily for Baker, was blocked. He was replaced by Joe Bryan.Whittingham played a neat one-two with Lee Peltier to find a pocket of space behind the Bristol back-three and deliver a teasing cross to the back post.Fielding made a mess of it and conceded a corner which was headed inches wide by Matt Connolly.But it was Steve Cotterill’s side who had the best chance to go in front just before half-time.Jonathan Kodjia came out with the ball from defence after a wasted Cardiff chance and fed the lively Bennett before continuing his run.He was found by an inch-perfect Bennett cross into the area but goalkeeper David Marshall reacted quickly to tip the ball over.Joe Mason had two chances to give Cardiff the lead in as many minutes after the break as the hosts came out firing.First he got his head to a looping Peltier cross but glanced wide, before Alex Revell found him with a low cross that he could only fire over the crossbar.Kagisho Dikgacoi was the next to get his head to a Whittingham cross but his weak effort allowed Bristol City to break and resulted in Aron Gunnarson picking up a yellow card.The Robins thought they had stolen the three points with 10 minutes remaining after Bryan stabbed a shot against a post and Kodjia poked the ball home, but the striker was offside.There was still time for late drama when Marshall pushed Bryan’s driven shot into the path of Bennett and he cracked the upright with a right-footed effort, while at the other end, Ameobi, who looked to be in an offside position, somehow missed from four yards. 1last_img read more

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ICE WARNING AS COLD SNAP SENDS TEMPERATURES BELOW ZERO

first_imgMOTORISTS are being warned to take extra care on the roads today after temperatures dropped below zero in many inland areas overnight.The cold spell will continue today with wintry showers at times and temperatures struggling to reach 4C or 5C.Met Eireann says it will feel even colder in the bitter northerly winds. The forecasters say it will be staying cold and breezy on Wednesday.Many areas will be dry with sunny spells but there will still be some wintry showers around. Fresh and gusty northeasterly winds will prevail.The good news is that temperatures will rise again tomorrow.Here’s the outlook for Easter weekend Thursday will be a dry bright day for most of the country with good spells of sunshine. Some showers will affect Ulster during the day but even these will be well scattered. And although staying cold on Thursday, temperatures will start to rise again with highest values of 9 to 11 degrees. The wind will still be northerly in direction, but it will be a lighter wind. And any frost on Thursday night will not be as severe as Tuesday or Wednesday night. Good Friday will also be generally dry and bright, with temperatures 11 to 13 degrees. And except for a few scattered showers, it will continue to remain dry through Saturday and Easter Sunday. The recovery in temperatures will continue with values of up to 15 degrees across south Leinster and Munster over the weekend. The weather looks like remaining dry also for Easter Monday, but with the winds turning to a southwesterly direction. And this will bring a spell of more general rain during Monday night. Broken weather will follow on for next week. ICE WARNING AS COLD SNAP SENDS TEMPERATURES BELOW ZERO was last modified: April 4th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:ICE WARNING AS COLD SNAP SENDS TEMPERATURES BELOW ZEROlast_img read more

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Bulldog Track Begins Weekend At UNI’s Jack Jennett Invite

first_imgCEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The Drake University track and field teams began their weekend of competition at the UNI Dome on Friday afternoon at the Jack Jennett Invite. Five Bulldogs competed in the small meet with Hudson Priebe (Chamberlain, S.D.) highlighting the afternoon with a seventh-place showing in the 60 meters. The bulk of the team will be in action Saturday at the Mark Messersmith Invite, also hosted by UNI. The Messersmith Invite is a scored meet between UNI, Drake, Indiana State, Marquette and South Dakota State. Field events start at 11 a.m. with track events beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Jack Jennett InviteCedar Falls, Iowa – Jan. 29, 2016 Drake Individual Women’s Results600 Meters7. Danielle Griesbaum, 1:42.72 Jack Jennett InviteCedar Falls, Iowa – Jan. 29, 2016 Drake Individual Men’s Results60 Meters (Finals)7. Hudson Priebe, 7.15 60 Meters (Prelims)7. Hudson Priebe, 7.17 200 Meters9. Nihad Ejubovic, 23.5015. Cory Erickson, 23.91 400 Meters6. Cory Erickson, 52.419. Nihad Ejubovic, 52.8610. Tyler Zak, 52.92 Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more

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Express host UPDF in relegation three pointer

first_img Tags: Azam UPLExpress FCsport AZAM Uganda Premier LeagueExpress FC vs UPDF FCMutessa II War Memorial Stadium, WankulukukuTuesday, 17-04-2018 @4:30pmExpress and UPDF will square off at Wankulukuku in a match that may determine the fate of either or both clubs as per their participation in the Azam Uganda Premier league next season.The home side currently occupies the third relegation spot while UPDF are only three points away from the Red Eagles and defeat will see the Army side drop into the bottom three as they have an inferior goal difference.“This is the time when the team needs the twelfth man (fan), started Express coach Shafick Bisaso ahead of the game.“They cheered us up in our recent game, and its that positive atmosphere they created that helped us to keep pushing for that win on a day we didn’t play well.“Against a side that we are tussling it out with directly to stay in the league, i am sure the fans can again help us a great deal.“So i call upon every Red Eagle out there to come and do their part as we try to beat the drop.Good news from the hosts’ camp is that Michael Birungi returns after missing Mbarara victory, the veteran is expected to beef up the striking line that has an off firing Alfred Leku.However, this game comes too early for left back Suleiman Jjingo who was still nursing Malaria – The player trained in the last two sessions but he may lack match fitness. Stephen Luswata, Sam Galiwango and Ronnie Kisekka are still serving their club bans.Key Stats:UPDF won the first meeting between the two sides 1-0 this season and will be seeking to complete a first ever league double over Express in more than 25 years.Express has won only two of their last seven league and cup games (D1 L4) while UPDF has managed two victories in the same period (D2 L3).Express FC form at home has greatly improved and has seen them win three of their last four league games, drawing the other 0-0 with Proline.For UPDF, they have managed only one away victory all season (D2 L9). The victory came at Police in Feburary.Other games to be played today:-SC Villa vs Vipers SC @Masaka Recreation Grounds at 04:30pm-Onduparaka FC vs KCCA FC @BetWay GreenLight stadium in Arua @04:30pm-Proline FC vs Police FC  @StarTimes stadium in Lugogo @4:30pmComments last_img read more

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Liliesleaf: keeping the memory alive

first_imgNelson Mandela’s old room at Liliesleaf. He lived on the farm under the false identity of David Motsamayi, the caretaker of the property. (Image: liliesleaf.co.za) A 3D interactive table allows visitors to pull up videos, images, audio and text about the farm’s history, using two aluminium navigator orbs. (Image: pixelproject.com) Liliesleaf farm, situated in what is todaythe upmarket suburb of Rivonia, north of Johannesburg, was considered the nerve centre of the liberation struggle. (Image: gautengcc.co.za) MEDIA CONTACTS • Maria Dawborn  Liliesleaf Trust   +27 11 803 7882RELATED ARTICLES • ConCourt art tells SA’s story • Tribute to Arthur Goldreich • Peace Prize focus on women’s rights • Cash boost for Baartman memorial Wilma den HartighLiliesleaf farm in Johannesburg – the site of the infamous raid in 1963 that led to the Rivonia treason trial in which top African National Congress (ANC) leaders were tried for sabotage – brings to life the memories, fascinating stories and events of a turning point in South Africa’s history.Denis Goldberg, member of the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, clearly recollects the day when the raid on Liliesleaf took place.In a recent filmed interview, Goldberg says he remembers how he felt at that moment when the security police swooped on the farmhouse on 11 July 1963; it was a cold winter’s day, and he says that at that moment it suddenly got “even colder”.Perhaps one of the reasons why Liliesleaf captures the imagination of so many people is because it is a place of memory, legacy and inspiration.“It’s keeping the memory and legacy alive of a particular time in South Africa’s history and ensuring that this story is told,” says Nicholas Wolpe, CEO of the Liliesleaf Trust.Through stories such as the one told by Goldberg, visitors get a revealing glimpse into the lives of the freedom fighters who candidly speak about their personal struggles, memories of Liliesleaf and their contribution to building a democratic South Africa.More than a historical siteLiliesleaf farm, situated in what is today the upmarket suburb of Rivonia, north of Johannesburg, was considered the nerve centre of the liberation struggle.Arthur Goldreich, a member of the South African Communist Party, and his family fronted as the white owners of Liliesleaf farm, while the thatched cottage and outbuildings were used to conceal underground activities.The farm was a secret meeting place for top ANC and Communist Party leaders and it is here that Umkhonto we Sizwe was founded. It was also a hideout of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who lived on the farm under the false identity of David Motsamayi, the caretaker of the property.The raid on Liliesleaf uncovered extensive incriminating evidence that was used by the police to cement their case against several ANC members.Among the most important finds were journals and diary entries written by Mandela, discovered in the coal bunker outside the main house. Operation Mayibuye, the plan which outlined how the resistance movement intended to overthrow the apartheid regime, was also discovered on the farm.“It is a site of immense significance,” says Wolpe.Through the establishment of the Liliesleaf Trust and Legacy Project, the site has been restored, preserved and developed into one of South Africa’s most prominent liberation landmarks.About 60% of the building infrastructure consists of original brickwork. During the excavation process, more than seven different types of brickface were uncovered and any post-1963 brick was discarded.This brickwork was used in the restoration of the historical buildings and structures, which today constitute the museum component of Liliesleaf, a project which began in mid-2004.Interactive museum experienceA visit to Liliesleaf is much more than a dry history lesson. The interactive displays and beautifully restored buildings tell the story of commitment, dedication and selfless sacrifice of many people who fought for freedom from an oppressive apartheid government.A key component of the Liliesleaf Legacy Project has been the interviewing of numerous individuals linked to Liliesleaf, to build-up a comprehensive audiovisual archive of the farm’s history.The interactive tour takes visitors on a journey, retracing the footsteps of prominent anti-apartheid activists who spent time on the farm.At each point in the tour, visitors have an opportunity to experience a first-hand account of the events and circumstances leading up to the raid of the Rivonia farm, through interviews with struggle veterans.In the manor house, a large 3D interactive table allows visitors to pull up videos, images, audio and text about the farm’s history, using two aluminium navigator orbs. Tour guide Zein Khumalo says the table is the only one of its kind in the world.The electronically-controlled cabinet of curiosity holds an account of each event that culminated in the Rivonia trial. As each cabinet is pulled out, the accounts are automatically read out.A telephone rings in the corner of one of the manor house’s rooms – it’s one of those old bulky black phones with a dial, and on picking up the receiver, the telephone plays recorded stories of spy agents, terrorists and infiltrators.The award-winning touch screen technology, telephone stories, sparse furnishings and dark rooms convey the sense of secrecy, fear and tension that the struggle leaders must have lived with every day.In search of a historical artefactIt has been 40 years since the raid took place, yet Liliesleaf remains a living monument to the fight for freedom in South Africa.According to Wolpe, the vision for Liliesleaf Farm took root after a Rivonia trialists’ reunion on the site in 2001. This led to the farm being re-purchased and its original structures were uncovered by archaeological diggings.But after all the excavations, one important item is still missing – the search for Mandela’s highly prized Russian Makarov pistol is still on.Although it was reportedly only buried about 20 paces from the farmhouse kitchen, an extensive search still hasn’t delivered the artefact, now valued at about R22-million (US$3-million).The semi-automatic pistol is believed to be the first weapon of the war against apartheid. It was given to the young Nelson Mandela in 1962 by Colonel Biru Tadesse of the Ethiopian Riot Battalion in Addis Ababa, when Mandela was on a trip to seek military assistance.Mandela hid the pistol, and 200 rounds of ammunition, in a pit deep enough so that a plough could not uncover it, near an oak tree on the farm. At the time he hoped to retrieve it soon, but he never got the chance. A few weeks after he buried the firearm he was arrested and imprisoned.The 93-year-old Mandela can no longer remember the details of where he buried the sought-after weapon.Celebrating South Africa’s journey to freedomAs the search for the valuable firearm continues – and Wolpe thinks that renewed efforts will be successful – the Liliesleaf museum remains an important part of South Africa’s history.“Liliesleaf is our connection to South Africa’s past, a link to the present and a bridge to the future,” he says.What makes a visit to Liliesleaf worthwhile is that the individual memories of the struggle are conveyed by people who were actually there.It represents the beliefs, inspiration and aspirations of a fearless group of leaders who were committed to bringing about socio-political transformation based on democratic principles.“It is important that the memory and legacy of South Africa’s struggle for freedom is preserved in the hearts and minds of all South Africans,” he says.last_img read more

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South Africa’s PnP opens in Zimbabwe

first_img27 June 2012 South African retailer Pick n Pay has opened its first supermarket in Zimbabwe – the sixth African country into which it has expanded – with plans for more to follow. The supermarket‚ the first Pick n Pay-branded store to open in Zimbabwe since the company took control of 49 percent of TM Supermarkets‚ is situated in the Kamfinsa shopping centre in eastern Harare and will stock a full range of local and imported products. “We are proud to be opening our first Pick n Pay at Kamfinsa‚” said Dallas Langman, director of group enterprises at Pick n Pay. “As the anchor tenant of the centre – which has been rebuilt and refurbished by Pearl Properties – we’ve seen the transformation that has already taken place in the suburb of Greendale.” The store comprises a Pick n Pay supermarket‚ as well as stand-alone Pick n Pay liquor and clothing stores. “These will offer world-class merchandise to customers at the best possible prices‚” said Langman. Mark Vickery, TM chief executive officer, said: “This development will offer a similar experience to our shoppers to that of any southern African Pick n Pay supermarket; it’s a real ‘taste’ of what we have planned for Zimbabwe over the next two years.” The PnP outlet is the anchor tenant‚ coupled with a collection of supporting services‚ in the refurbished shopping centre. PnP has provided operational support to TM Supermarket‚ through a skills development programme designed to equip the Zimbabwean local team with international best practice in a variety of retail disciplines that will ultimately result in a unique‚ new and fresh shopping experience for the customer. “The customer has always been at the centre of all we do‚ and we believe that our partnership will result in a productive sharing of ideas that will mean service delivery to the customer‚ comparable to anywhere in the world‚” Vickery added. A number of Pick n Pay branches will be opened‚ many of them at sites where TM Supermarkets have been operating. Langman said the supermarket would emphasise the “fresh” concept with a minimum of 40 percent of floor space being dedicated to fruit and vegetables‚ deli‚ and confectionary. “This is our response to the fact that people want to eat more healthily; and we will be offering an infusion of traditional health food‚ as we have seen high turnover in traditional lines of fresh food.” The TM chain currently has 50 stores in Zimbabwe, and the Kamfinsa Pick n Pay store will be the first in its strategy of offering the best brands to customers. Pick n Pay currently operates 17 stores in Namibia‚ 12 in Botswana‚ seven in Swaziland and one in Lesotho‚ together with the its first Zambian store. “We pledge that the shopping experience in all our Pick n Pay stores will be second to none‚ both in terms of store ambience and most importantly giving customers real and great value for their hard earned money.” As at financial year end (February 2012) Pick n Pay operated 94 stores in Africa. Sapalast_img read more

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EPA Fights for Refiner Waivers in Court

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — A biofuels interest group last month asked a federal court to stop EPA from granting additional small refinery waivers, and on Monday, the EPA filed a motion in an ongoing court case to fight the request tooth and nail.One year ago, the Advanced Biofuels Association petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asking for a review of those waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard that to-date, have totaled about 2.6 billion gallons of biofuels not blended in gasoline.The ABFA on March 6, 2019, filed a 97-page brief with the court alleging the EPA broke away from RFS requirements for granting small-refinery waivers starting in May 2017 and continued to deny a congressional order regarding which refiners qualify.This week, the EPA argued in a response filed in the DC court that the Advanced Biofuels Association waited too long to file for an injunction.“ABFA’s preliminary injunction motion is too late,” EPA said in court documents.“Motions for emergency relief ordinarily must be filed no later than 30 days after docketing. ABFA fails to justify its almost year-long delay in seeking emergency relief. A small refinery seeking an exemption from its annual volume obligations must petition EPA and demonstrate it qualifies for each calendar year in which the exemption is sought. Therefore, ABFA knew when it filed its petition in May 2018 that EPA would have to act on small-refinery petitions for the 2018 compliance year during the course of this case. Indeed, ABFA repeatedly agreed not to oppose, and at times, joined EPA in seeking extensions of time.”In recent weeks, President Donald Trump’s administration has taken heat for scrapping a proposal to make public more information about those companies receiving waivers.In an April 12, 2019, notice, the EPA proposed changes to the renewables enhancement and growth support, or REGS, rule. The rule would have provided the petitioner’s name, the name and location of small refinery facilities asking for waivers, the general nature of the relief requested, the time period for which relief is requested, and whether the agency granted or denied requests.The partially redacted document filed by the ABFA in March shows the agency originally was allowed to grant temporary, two-year, exemptions starting in 2005. In recent years, however, the agency granted exemption extensions beyond two years — including a refiner that never received a prior exemption.The EPA approved waivers for small refiners that didn’t have the minimum U.S. Department of Energy score to qualify, the brief said, and improperly considered the debts of small-refiners’ parent companies when examining waiver requests.In addition, the brief showed evidence the agency considered small-refiners’ operating losses whether or not they were related to RFS compliance. The agency also considered what small refiners might spend on biofuel credits without looking at revenue they would later generate from sales of Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs.The Advanced Biofuels Association asked the court to declare the agency’s methodology for determining disproportionate economic hardship as “unlawful” in asking for a national injunction to stop additional waivers from being granted.On Monday, the EPA argued in court documents that the agency has followed the law in granting waivers. The agency granted 53 waivers for 2016 and 2017, and has received 40 waiver requests for 2018.The Advanced Biofuels Association has argued the EPA changed the way it evaluates waiver requests.“EPA’s decisions fully explained its conclusion that, notwithstanding its previous approach, factors other than a threat to a small refinery’s long-term viability can demonstrate disproportionate economic hardship on a small refinery,” the EPA argued in court.“Nothing in the statute precludes EPA from considering some of the same information as DOE, yet coming to a different conclusion on the question of ‘disproportionate economic hardship.’ ABFA attempts to sidestep these limitations by mounting a generic facial challenge to so-called ‘modified evaluation criteria’ that EPA applies when issuing small refinery exemptions. The ‘modified evaluation criteria’ ABFA purports to challenge are not reflected in any rule, or even a guidance document.”EPA said the Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the agency to act on a waiver petition in consultation with the U.S. Department of Energy and to consider findings of a 2011 DOE study on waivers.The Advanced Biofuels Association has argued that falling prices of Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, in 2017 was caused by waivers granted.EPA argued in its response that the falling prices are not evidence of waivers granted.“The drop in RIN prices in 2017 that ABFA’s members cite as evidence of harm is within the historical range of variation,” EPA said. “This range reflects that RIN prices are affected by a wide variety of factors. The mere assertions of ABFA’s members that the purported harm correlates to small refinery exemptions, in light of other potential factors, fails to meet the burden of proof necessary to warrant injunctive relief.“ABFA’s public interest arguments presuppose that Congress directed EPA to maximize the revenue for the renewable fuels industry at the expense of small refineries. This is a fundamentally flawed view of the CAA. While the RFS Program encourages the use of renewable fuels, it does not do so ‘at all costs.’”Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.comFollow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(BAS/SK)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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