Ethanol Supporters React to Reports of More Waivers

Cindy Zimmerman

Reports that the Trump Administration is possibly planning to grant a number of 2019 small refinery exemptions this week have led to strong outcry from ethanol organizations and farm state lawmakers.

Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), co-chair of the House Biofuels Caucus, led a bipartisan letter urging President Trump to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately reject the issuance of any illegal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers. The letter was co-led with House Biofuels Caucus co-chairs Reps. Angie Craig (MN-02), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Dusty Johnson (SD-AL), and Adrian Smith (NE-03).

“This news arrives at the worst time possible as the biofuels industry continues to reel from the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the members wrote. “These exemptions, coming on top of 85 waivers already granted by EPA over the past four years, would also cause immense and unnecessary strain to businesses that are desperately trying to keep workers on the payroll.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings sent a letter to the EPA Inspector General seeking assurance that any potential last-minute action to grant a significant number of petitions for small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard complies with federal law, given previous remarks by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler that it would be “inappropriate” for him to make any decisions on waivers until litigation has “completely run its course.”

The letter encourages the EPA IG to “ensure that all communications from Administrator Wheeler and any other correspondence of President Trump’s political appointees about the pending SRE waiver petitions be preserved. This should include communications among Trump appointees and EPA career staff with trade groups and law firms who represent oil refineries with waiver petitions pending, as well as with officials or lobbyists of these companies directly.”

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