Oil companies like Sunoco buy RINs from biofuel producers to earn credits to meet the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). RINs are used to track each gallon of a biofuel as part of the federal rule. There's been so much fraud in these deals that The US Environmental Protection Agency recently released proposed rules to deal with potential RIN fraud as part of the 2013 RFS.
There is a need for audits and accountability in the marketplace. The biodiesel industry saw several distressing – and mysterious – episodes last year. Jeffrey David Gunselman, former CEO of Absolut Fuels, was arrested for pilfering more than $50 million in fake RIN credits without producing any of the biodiesel. Rodney Hailey, who headed Clean Green Fuel LLC, alledgedly made $9.1 million selling renewable fuel credits that were not delivered.
The strangest one of all involved biodiesel train shipments between Canada and the US by CN Rail that were never unloaded. The shipping company appeared to have made $2.6 million in Canadian dollars for the effort. Two US biodiesel companies were listed as customers – HeroBX and Northern Biodiesel – and neither responded to media inquiries. A Canadian company, Bioversal Trading Inc., is being investigated by the Canada Border Services Agency on allegations of false statements to avoid duties in shipping biodiesel to Romania and Italy.