Senators call on EPA to protect the integrity of the RFS

By Erin Voegele | January 14, 2021

A group of seven republication senators from the Midwest sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Jan. 14 urging him to avoid making any decisions on small refinery exemptions (SREs) until the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling on the matter.

“Alarming new reports indicate that your [EPA] may issue numerous pending [SREs] which would be a devastating blow to biofuel producers and the farmers who sell to them,” they wrote. “We urge you to not take such action.

“It comes as no surprise that these new reports scare biofuel producers across the Midwest,” they continued. “Ethanol and biodiesel plants that are already struggling to cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic are at risk of closing their doors, cutting off key markets for farmers. Many biofuel plants have already been forced to shutter their doors over the past four years. Eliminating more demand for biofuels at this time may be the death knell for many more.

“On November 2, 2020, you stated that ‘it would be inappropriate for me to either grant or deny them until that litigation has completely run its course,’” the senators wrote. “This was taken as an indication EPA would not adjudicate any more SRE applications until the courts have spoken, definitively. Granting additional SREs at this time would be inconsistent with the unanimous Tenth Circuit ruling in Renewable Fuels Association et. al. v. EPA. We therefore implore you to summarily freeze any decisions on the pending SREs until the Supreme Court has ruled.”

The letter is signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; and Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

The Renewable Fuels Association thanked the senators for backing the RFS. “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have clearly and forcefully spoken out against last-minute efforts to inflict rural America with more exemptions from Big Oil’s renewable volume obligations,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “We appreciate our Senate champions and look forward to working with them to reverse the course of the refinery waiver program that has been so harmful to farmers, ethanol producers and heartland communities.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from Grassley’s website.