Durbin Calls For An End To Small Refinery Waivers And Restoring Integrity To The Renewable Fuel Standard
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, along with Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), today urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to end the harmful abuse of small refinery hardship waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In a letter sent to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Durbin and his colleagues stress that under the Trump Administration, the granting of waivers has increased by 370 percent with “small refinery” waivers going to prosperous large oil companies while causing more rural biofuels companies to shutter operations. After reports that the President greenlighted the waivers, and signals that the Administration is scrambling to mitigate the economic harm, Durbin said he wants real actions that live up to the promise of helping the nation’s rural economy.
“EPA continues to undercut the integrity of the RFS by misusing its waiver authority, which in turn has a direct adverse impact on farmers and jobs in rural communities. We write to urge you once again to end the abuse of these small refinery exemptions, immediately reallocate the remaining gallons, and make public information regarding any recipients of these exemptions,” wrote Durbin and his colleagues to Administrator Wheeler.
Full text of today’s letter is available here and below:
August 26, 2019
Dear Administrator Wheeler,
We are extremely concerned that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to abuse the use of small refinery hardship waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). On Friday, August 8, 2019, the EPA issued another 31 such waivers, effectively reducing demand for renewable fuels by over 1.4 billion gallons. This is on top of the 54 refinery waivers already approved by this Administration over the last two years, which eliminated demand for more than 2.6 billion gallons of biofuels.
Comparing the last three years of the previous administration to the first three years of the current administration, the Trump Administration has increased the granting of waivers by an astounding 370 percent, with "small refinery" waivers going to some of the world's largest oil companies.
This pattern of demand destruction is wreaking havoc on our nation's rural economy. In recent months, more than 13 ethanol plants and 8 biodiesel plants have idled production or shut down across the country. Not only did these biofuel plants support thousands of rural jobs across the country, they served as important markets for farmers, processing millions of bushels of corn, soybeans, and other commodities. At a time when farmers are already struggling after years of low prices and a chaotic trade agenda, this Administration chose to destroy more markets for farmers and harm rural communities across the country.
To add insult to injury, recent reports indicate that President Trump personally made the decision to grant these 31 waivers, despite numerous promises to support renewable fuels. EPA continues to undercut the integrity of the RFS by misusing its waiver authority, which in turn has a direct adverse impact on farmers and jobs in rural communities. We write to urge you once again to end the abuse of these small refinery exemptions, immediately reallocate the remaining gallons, and make public information regarding any recipients of these exemptions.
Thank you for your attention to this critical issue.
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