May 7, 2019
By Erin Voegele
A bipartisan group of 35 representatives, led by Reps. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler May 7 urging the agency to stop issuing small refinery exemptions (SREs) to large or unqualified refiners under the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Within the letter, the lawmakers note that the Trump Administration has approved 54 SRE requests to date, and has failed to issue a single denial.
“This unprecedented rate of granting waivers is a betrayal of our rural communities, detrimental to our energy security, and threatens our entire agricultural sector at a time of declining incomes and rising debts for our producers,” the representatives wrote. “EPA must halt this process and reallocate waived gallons as the law intends.”
According to the letter, SREs approved to date have caused a loss of 2.6 billion gallons of renewable fuel blending and almost 1 billion bushels of corn demand.
“Granting exemptions to the RFS increases American dependence on foreign oil,” the letter continues. “By continually waiving the requirements of the RFS for small refineries, the EPA fosters uncertainty about the program creating uncertainty for those interested in investing and developing America’s biofuel industry. Further it disincentivizes refineries from taking the steps necessary to begin to meet the standards set by the RFS and make domestic biofuels available to consumers.”
Growth Energy has spoken out to thank the lawmakers for sending the letter. “At a time when grain markets have reached a 42-year low and there was an $11.8 billion decline in farm income the last quarter, our rural communities are continuing to be punished by the rapid escalation in small refinery exemptions by this administration," said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. "There is no legal or rational explanation for why EPA has quadrupled the number of secret exemptions to the world's largest oil companies in the past 17 months. We applaud U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and their 33 colleagues calling on EPA to halt unjust granting of SREs and to reallocate the gallons lost to ensure the targets set out under the RFS are met, and put an end to the practice of eliminating markets at a time when growers and producers need them most."
The Renewable Fuels Association has also spoken out to thanks the representatives. “We thank the members of the House who sent this letter, and we join them in calling on EPA to immediately stop excusing highly profitable oil refiners from their legal obligations to blend cleaner, lower-cost renewable fuels like ethanol,” said the RFA in statement. “Further, we strongly agree with this bi-partisan group that EPA must restore the renewable fuel blending requirements that were erased through these clandestine waivers. The refinery exemptions have had devastating impacts on our nation’s farm sector and renewable fuels industry, and the bailouts have resulted in American consumers paying more money at the pump for dirtier fuels. It’s time to stop doing special favors for refiners like Chevron and ExxonMobil at the expense of rural America, which is experiencing the toughest economic times in a generation.”
In addition to Axne and Smith, the letter was signed by Reps. David Scott, D-Ga.; Darin LaHood, R-Ill.; Roger Marshall M.D., R-Kan.; Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.; Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif.; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Steve King, R-Iowa; David Loebsack, D-Iowa; Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.; Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa; Don Bacon, R-Neb.; Lauren Underwood. D-Ill.; Angie Craig, D-Minn.; Rodney Davis. R-Ill.; Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.; Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill,; Emanuel Cleaver, II, D-Mo.; Mark Pocan, D-Wisc.; Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn.; Ron Estes, R-Kan.; Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn.; Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio; Steve Watkins, R-Kan.; Tom O'Halleran, D-Ariz.; Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio; Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo.; Mike Bost, R-Ill.; Ron Kind, D-Wisc.; Robin Kelly, D-Ill.; Bill Foster, D-Ill.; and James R. Baird, R-Ind.
A full copy of the letter is available on the Growth Energy website.
Read the original article: Representatives Urge EPA to Stop Issuing SREs