U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is upset about news reports last week that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt broke the rules to expand the number small refinery exemptions (SREs) granted to oil refiners.
“I am angry by reports that show what we long suspected: former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt ignored the law to help big refineries at the expense of farmers and ethanol producers,” said Sen. Fischer in a statement. “The EPA gave ‘hardship exemptions’ to profitable refineries, releasing them from their biofuel blending obligations. According to projections, this could cause the ethanol industry to lose billions of gallons in demand.”
Sen. Fischer says she intends to pursue legislative options to address abuse in the small refinery exemption process. “I will also push new leadership at the EPA to make sure the agency is upholding the Renewable Fuel Standard as intended by law,” she added.
During the 17 months that Pruitt was administrator of the EPA, 48 waivers were granted to refineries to release them from their legal blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Reuters reported last week that EPA regulators under Pruitt stopped considering whether compliance with the RFS would prevent a refinery from making money and being competitive, and instead based the decision on whether compliance would cause a “disproportionate” impact on the facility. The report was based on a court filing by the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA).