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Ernst, Klobuchar, Duckworth, Grassley Urge EPA to Reject Retroactive Biofuel Blending Waivers

The Iowa senator and her colleagues wrote, “Granting these petitions would worsen the unprecedented economic challenges facing the biofuels industry and the rural communities that it supports while violating EPA’s own policy on this issue”

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a relentless fighter for Iowa’s biofuel community, led a bipartisan letter with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), as well as fellow Iowan Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject petitions for Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for past compliance years. In the letter, the senators warn that granting these petitions would worsen the unprecedented economic challenges facing the biofuels industry and demand that the EPA apply the 10th Circuit decision nationally.

“We urge you to reject these petitions outright and respond in writing to our questions about recent use of SREs under the RFS. 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. EPA must deny these petitions and apply the 10th Circuit decision nationally.”

“We thank Senator Ernst for relentlessly holding the EPA accountable. These 52 exemption requests are nothing more than an egregious and unjustified attempt to undermine the RFS and the rule of law. Every single one of them should be rejected and we appreciate everything Sen. Ernst is doing to hold EPA's feet to the fire,” said Monte Shaw, Executive Director of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

“The 52 waivers that have been submitted to EPA for consideration, some dating back to 9 years ago, should be denied. The ploy of these waivers serve as just another way to destroy corn and ethanol demand at a time when we need access to the market the most. We hope the EPA will honor the request by Senator Ernst to deny the small refinery waivers and apply the Tenth Circuit Court decision nationwide rather than this Administrator kicking the American corn farmer again while we are down," said Jim Greif, President, Iowa Corn Growers Association. 

“Soybean farmers were appalled to learn EPA is considering more than 50 petitions for retroactive small refinery exemptions. This is just the latest in a string of attempts to sidestep the law, undercut the Renewable Fuel Standard, and kill soybean demand. We’re extremely grateful for Senator Ernst’s relentless defense of Iowa agriculture and this critical domestic market for soybeans. It’s time for the EPA and Administrator Wheeler to end the chaos and continued attacks against Iowa’s farmers and deny these petitions,” said Tim Bardole, President of Iowa Soybean Association.

“We appreciate Senator Ernst demanding answers from EPA regarding its inconsistencies on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Changing the rules and circumventing the will of Congress and the Tenth Circuit is heaping economic harm on an embattled biofuels and agriculture industry. Biodiesel producers, farmers and rural communities need the EPA and Administrator Wheeler to deny these petitions and stop the misuse of small refinery waivers under the RFS,” said Grant Kimberly, Executive Director of Iowa Biodiesel Board.

“We’re grateful to Senator Ernst for her continued leadership in holding EPA accountable for these unlawful SREs, and for standing up against this attempt to rewrite years of history, skirt the courts, and torpedo efforts to rebuild America’s agricultural supply chain. The sole purpose of these retroactive exemptions is to circumvent the law at the expense of rural families struggling to get back on their feet. There is no justification for allowing these petitions to hang over the market, injecting uncertainty into America’s agricultural recovery. EPA needs to dismiss the oil industry’s latest attempt to destroy demand for American biofuels and restore integrity to the RFS,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy.  

“We applaud this bipartisan group of Senators for exposing the absurdity of the oil industry’s latest ploy to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard. We thank them for holding Administrator Wheeler accountable and demanding answers. EPA’s failure to comply with the recent Tenth Circuit Court decision is prolonging uncertainty and exacerbating economic harm in rural America, which was already reeling from the effects of COVID-19 on the agriculture and biofuels sector. RFA agrees with these Senate leaders 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,” said Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.  

The full text of today’s letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler can be found HERE.