VIDEO: Ernst Grills EPA Nominee on RFS, Small Refinery Exemption Process

The Iowa senator, a relentless, longtime advocate for Iowa biofuels, said in part: “our farmers and producers are tired of being yanked around by the EPA”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a relentless advocate for Iowa biofuels, pressed the nominee for deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Doug Benevento, on the recent Tenth Circuit Court decision on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the future of the small refinery exemption (SRE) program.

At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing this morning, Ernst questioned Mr. Benevento, saying in part:

Ernst: “As you know the Tenth Circuit has found that the EPA abused the small refinery exemption program by granting SREs in an ‘arbitrary and capricious manner.’ … I’m concerned about my industry in Iowa that was harmed by these illegal—not coming from me, coming from the Tenth Circuit—illegal SREs. These illegal SREs caused over 4 billion gallons of demand destruction for ethanol and biodiesel, and shut down numerous plants across the heartland, depressing commodity values in an already uncertain time for my farmers and my producers. Can we agree that at this very moment the Tenth Circuit Decision is the law of the land?”

Benevento: … “Yes, it is a Tenth Circuit decision, and it is binding.”

Ernst: “I can tell you, our farmers and producers are tired of being yanked around by the EPA, and again, these illegal SREs…You know where I stand on this. My folks back home know where I stand on this. We have had ethanol producers that have shut down—not the threat of small refineries that might shut down some day—we’ve had ethanol plants shut down. We’re following the law, we believe EPA should follow the law as well.”

Click here or the image above to watch Senator Ernst’s questioning.


Senator Ernst has been a consistent and tireless advocate and fighter on behalf of Iowa’s biofuels producers and farmers. She has continued to advocate for the administration to uphold the RFS, including directly communicating with President Trump on many occasions, including twice last weekend regarding the Tenth Circuit Court decision.

The Iowa senator worked closely with the Trump Administration to remove the outdated restriction on the sale of E15 year-round. In May of this year, the EPA finalized a new rule lifting the ban, and the Senator joined President Trump in Council Bluffs to celebrate the big win for Iowa farmers and producers.

For five years in a row, Growth Energy, who is a leading biofuels trade association in the country, has presented Senator Ernst with the “Fueling Growth Award” for her work to get E15 sold year-round and for her constant efforts to advance, support, and defend renewable fuels and the RFS as a whole.

Senator Ernst is an original cosponsor of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Integrity Act of 2019. The bipartisan legislation would ensure EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual renewable volume obligations (RVO) it sets each November.

The Senator has urged EPA to stop issuing so-called “hardship” waivers exempting obligated parties, to provide topline information about the waivers already issued, to disclose whether or not the agency redistributed the waived volume obligations among the non-exempted obligated parties, and to outline the agency’s plan to make the waiver process more transparent.