Candidates & Biofuels: Tina Smith

  • Thursday, 22 October 2020 14:06

Candidate US Senate

In our final installment in our spotlight on candidates and their views on biofuels, we turn to Minnesota's lone senate race this year between Sen. Tina Smith and fomer Congressman, Jason Lewis. Only Smith responded to our queries. Please note that these questions were sent to the candidates prior to the EPA rejecting 54 of 68 gap year SRE applications it received this year. 

Sen. Tina SmithcroppedTina Smith

Q. What is your position concerning the current state of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)? Should the EPA follow the 10th Circuit Federal Court's decision regarding Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) waivers and reject current, future and gap year SRE applications from the oil industry?

A. In the wake of COVID-19, the Renewable Fuel Standard is more important than ever. The RFS has been a critical economic driver for rural America and the agricultural industry. I’m working in the Senate to make sure the 10th Circuit’s ruling is upheld and to hold the Trump EPA accountable for their abuse of the small refinery hardship waivers, which have eliminated demand for billions of gallons for renewable fuels and hurt rural communities, farmers, clean energy producers, and agribusinesses. I’ve joined many of my Senate colleagues, of both parties, to call on the EPA to reject the more than 50 “gap-year” RFS waivers recently requested by oil refiners.

Q. Given the large number of spark ignition-powered vehicles on the road and the need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, what is your position concerning a possible Low Carbon High Octane Fuel Standard to replace more petroleum with greater amounts of renewable ethanol?

A. I am a member of the Senate Democrat's Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.We recently released a report highlighting the value of biofuels for reducing U.S. carbon emissions, and we suggest a Low Carbon Fuel Standard as a tool to spur further growth in the biofuel sector.I am a big proponent of biofuels and the co-products that can be made from biofuel production.  For ethanol, work by the National Renewable Energy Lab and others have shown the potential for substantial additional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions if we can begin to utilize E20-E30 blends.

Q. The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected Minnesota's ethanol industry. At one point, plants were shutdown while others had to significantly reduce production. While production has begun to approach pre-pandemic levels, Minnesota’s ethanol producers are still facing severe financial distress. Would you support financial aid to Minnesota’s ethanol producers?

A. Yes. I support the ethanol industry relief provisions that were passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representative as part of the HEROES Act. Unfortunately, Senate leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring that legislation up for a vote.I also cosponsored a bipartisan stand-alone Senate bill to provide relief to the ethanol industry.Sen. McConnell has not allowed a vote on that bill either. 

Q. Do you support making higher ethanol blends, such as E15, available across Minnesota and the United States through infrastructure funding?

A. Yes.