Rally for jobs draws hundreds of workers to Delaware City refinery

Eight years after a buyer reopened the Delaware City refinery, there are concerns that jobs could be in jeopardy again. This time, the issue is a complicated federal renewable fuels standard.

Hundreds of refinery employees from several states joined industry leaders and elected officials Monday outside the refinery for a rally to highlight their concerns about the Renewable Fuel Standard. The requirement is years old and mandates that refineries demonstrate that they are blending renewable fuels into the gasoline supply. If they can't, they are required  to make payments that critics say subsidizes large, multinational oil companies.

"This facility is being burdened now with $100- to $150-million a year of what amounts to a hidden tax on the refinery," Delaware City Refinery Manager Jeff Coleman said. "That would be money that we could go out and do generational-type projects to secure this facility for the next 20 to 50 years."

Coleman has managed the plant for just a few months. Kevin Herbein has worked there for 27 years, and heads one of its union locals. 

"It's hard to find a good-paying job anymore," Herbein said. "It's very important to keep these jobs sustained. If the federal government doesn't do something to level the playing field here, quite frankly we could lose our jobs."

"These jobs are personal," Governor John Carney (D- Delaware) said at the rally. "They're about your families. They're about our communities."

According to the Fueling American Jobs Coalition, the EPA under President Trump has abandoned what the group says is much-needed reform to the Renewable Fuels Standard. 

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.