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Administration Heeds Ernst’s Calls to Deny ‘Gap Year’ Waivers, Increase Access to E15

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee and tireless advocate for the biofuel industry, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a family farmer and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, issued the following statement following the administration’s announcements to deny so-called “gap year” petitions for small refinery exemptions (SREs) for past compliance years and clarify the ability of existing fuel infrastructure to support expanded E15 use:
“I’ve been calling for these ‘gap year’ waivers to be thrown out since they were announced. Now, the administration has listened to our calls for action. Today’s announcements will help provide more certainty to our biofuel producers, who have for too-long been yanked around by the EPA, and help increase access to E15, which drives up demand for corn and ethanol,”  said Senator Ernst. “The fight for Iowa’s renewable fuel industry, and our farmers, is not over. I’ll never stop being a relentless advocate for Iowa agriculture—holding EPA to their commitments and making sure the RFS is the law of the land.”
“Senator Ernst and I have long called for ending so-called hardship exemptions for big oil companies. I’m glad the EPA is listening to our feedback and common sense from farmers and biofuel producers. The rejection of these exemptions come after a thorough review process from both the EPA and the Department of Energy. I’m proud to partner with Senator Ernst who has been a relentless advocate in calling for these exemptions to be rejected. She has demonstrated effective leadership holding the EPA accountable on renewable fuels,” said Senator Grassley. “I applaud President Trump for keeping his word and supporting our farmers and biofuel producers. This is an important step that will allow more gas stations to provide E15 to Iowans year-round without significantly changing their infrastructure. I’m glad to work with Senator Ernst who has been a steadfast advocate for our biofuels community and called on the EPA to make this change earlier this year.”

“Today’s action lifts a cloud of uncertainty that has been hanging over America’s farmers and biofuel producers since June,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We’re grateful to Senator Ernst, who has led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the House and Senate and governors across the heartland in speaking out against oil-backed efforts to dodge the law, circumvent the courts, and upend markets. Growth Energy looks forward to continuing our work with the White House and leaders in Congress to ensure that we restore integrity to our nation’s biofuel targets and that rural communities have the support they need to revitalize growth in the months ahead.”

Background :
Since the “gap year” SREs were announced, Senator Ernst has been calling on the administration to deny the waivers, telling U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to “throw them in the garbage.” Ernst also blocked the nominee to be the Deputy Administrator at EPA, Doug Benevento, over the gap year waiver issue.
In August, Senator Ernst joined Iowa leaders and President Trump in Cedar Rapids to discuss the impact of the derecho on the state. During their meeting, Senator Ernst brought the concerns of Iowa’s farmers and producers directly to the president about the “gap year” SREs. Since then, Ernst has spoken with the president, vice president, and other administration officials about the need to deny these waivers.
In addition, during an Oval Office meeting last year, Ernst secured a commitment from EPA Administrator Wheeler to help expand biofuel infrastructure and fix ongoing labeling issues for higher blends of ethanol. She then  pressed him on this issue at an EPW Committee hearing. Following the hearing, Senator Ernst  called on Administrator Wheeler to certify biofuel infrastructure for E15 and remove unnecessary labeling which will increase consumer access to higher blends of ethanol.
Senator Ernst worked closely with the Trump Administration to remove the outdated restriction on the sale of E15 year-round.