Rep. Axne, House Biofuels Caucus Urge Rejection of Pending RFS Waivers

January 12, 2021
Press Release
Reports suggest Trump Administration considering a late approval of numerous small refinery exemptions

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03), co-chair of the House Biofuels Caucus, led a bipartisan letter urging President Trump to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately reject the issuance of any illegal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers.

The letter, which was co-led with House Biofuels Caucus co-chairs Reps. Angie Craig (MN-02), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Dusty Johnson (SD-AL), and Adrian Smith (NE-03), comes as reports suggest that the Trump Administration may grant a number of pending 2019 small refinery exemptions (SREs), despite earlier commitments that the EPA would not approve such waivers and a U.S. Circuit Court decision ruling them illegal.

“These illegal small refinery exemptions are contrary to legislative intent and hurt our rural economies; and impede the use of clean, renewable liquid fuel in the marketplace,” the members wrote. “This news arrives at the worst time possible as the biofuels industry continues to reel from the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These exemptions, coming on top of 85 waivers already granted by EPA over the past four years, would also cause immense and unnecessary strain to businesses that are desperately trying to keep workers on the payroll.”

The Trump Administration has repeatedly undermined the RFS — harming Iowa’s biofuels producers and significantly reducing demand for local growers.

In January 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that the Trump Administration’s EPA had used these waivers illegally – a ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review last Friday.

Rep. Axne has consistently advocated for Iowa producers and growers against the administration’s abuse. Axne also fought to secure COVID-19 aid for producers last year, which ultimately made it into law last month.

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear President Trump,

We are alarmed by reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may issue numerous pending 2019 small refinery exemptions (SREs) despite ongoing legal action and commitments from top EPA officials that this would not occur. Granting any of these waiver requests will further devastate America’s rural communities as they continue to struggle amidst a difficult economy. 

These illegal small refinery exemptions are contrary to legislative intent and hurt our rural economies; they also and impede the use of clean, renewable liquid fuel in the marketplace. This news arrives at the worst time possible as the biofuels industry continues to reel from the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These exemptions, coming on top of 85 waivers already granted by EPA over the past four years, would also cause immense and unnecessary strain to businesses that are desperately trying to keep workers on the payroll.  

In September, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler rightfully rejected dozens of spurious and illegal waiver requests from refiners. But now, with 66 more exemption requests pending, Administrator Wheeler’s sudden reversal is a betrayal to Rural America and our local farmers who depend on stable ethanol and biodiesel markets for their corn and soybeans. This move also harms our essential infrastructure workers who provide fuel to keep our economy running, and our critical supply chains that rely on biofuel industry coproducts. All these benefits are at immediate risk if any 2019 waivers are granted.

It would be inappropriate to grant any waiver petitions inconsistent with the law and the Tenth Circuit Court decision in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA until currently pending litigation on this issue has concluded. Therefore, we respectfully request that you direct EPA to immediately reject any pending waiver requests that do not meet the criteria established in Tenth Circuit Court’s decision. 

Sincerely,

Issues: