WASHINGTON – At today’s Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry hearing on The State of Rural America, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) questioned U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue on the agency’s efforts to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and the 88,000 farms across Iowa and 50,000 jobs tied to the renewable fuels industry.

Watch Senator Ernst’s questioning here or by clicking on the image below.

 

On Protecting the RFS: Senator Ernst thanked Secretary Perdue for his advocacy and continued support for renewable fuels, but highlighted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Pruitt’s “actions that are destroying demand for biofuels, moves that will ultimately kill the RFS.” The senator specifically pointed to the “25 or so small refinery hardship waiversgranted by the EPA to some refineries that “are neither small, nor experiencing hardship.”

On How Small Refinery Waivers “Demand Destruction” for Biofuels: Senator Ernst asked Secretary Perdue what he will do to “ensure the EPA is not deliberately circumventing the statute and the President’s 15-billion gallon promise to rural America?” The Secretary agreed that the waivers have circumvented the 15-billion gallon obligation, and that while these issues do not fall within his authority, the Secretary cited his efforts to communicate to the Administrator and Administration the concerns raised by farmers and biofuel producers through the “power of persuasion.”

On Commitments Made: “And I do appreciate that, and the power of persuasion that we do have, and of course letting the Administration and Administrator Pruitt know how displeased we are in that area, especially when he made the commitment to me specifically to uphold the intent and the letter of the law. And I do believe that he is trying to work his way around that,” responded Senator Ernst.

On Support for the Sale of E15 Year-Round: The Senator also recounted the President’s support for the sale of E15 year-round, which would “address refiner concerns over RIN prices, while increasing biofuel demand.” The senator asked Secretary Perdue if he had spoken with Administrator Pruitt regarding the E15 waiver and how to move forward with this effort. Secretary Perdue reiterated his support for the E15 waiver and pledged to continue to push for the President to “make good on that commitment to do that.”