A bipartisan group of 16 senators sent a letter this week urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject any petitions for Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for past compliance years.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and a dozen others said in the letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler that he should deny the petitions immediately and apply the 10th Circuit decision nationwide.
“These petitions should not even be entertained because they are inconsistent with the Tenth Circuit decision, Congressional intent, the EPA’s own guidance, and – most importantly – the interests of farmers and rural communities who rely on the biofuel industry,” the senators wrote. “The approval of SREs for past compliance years at this moment would only worsen the unprecedented economic challenges facing the biofuels industry and the rural communities that it supports.”
Last week, EPA disclosed that 52 retroactive “gap-year” RFS waiver petitions had been received, going back to compliance year 2011. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper said they agree with the Senators that granting gap-year small refinery exemptions would not only be illegal, but it would also worsen the demand destruction that renewable fuel producers have already endured at the hands of EPA in recent years. “We proudly join these Senators in calling on EPA to immediately deny the gap-year petitions and apply the Tenth Circuit decision nationally.”
The National Biodiesel Board also supports the senators, according to Kurt Kovarik, VP of Federal Affairs. “Biodiesel producers and soybean farmers across the country are already facing unprecedented economic challenges. A brand-new flood of unlawful small refinery exemptions is guaranteed to compound the damage from the past several years.”
The letter was also signed by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Thune (R-SD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Deb Fischer (R-NE).