WASHINGTON – Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) sent a letter to President Trump today expressing concern that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is inappropriately issuing waivers to fuel refiners in order to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
The RFS program requires refiners to blend a certain percentage of renewable fuels into transportation fuel. While the program includes authority for the EPA Administrator to grant exemptions to small refiners in order to provide compliance flexibility, the waivers are not intended to be used to thwart the primary goal of the RFS program—to increase the use of renewable fuels.
“Misuse of the small refiner exemption to reduce renewable fuel volumes undermines the goal of the RFS program, creates uncertainty and economic hardship in the agricultural community, and gives unfair advantage to specific facilities within the refining sector,” Pallone and Peterson wrote to President Trump. “In addition, the lack of transparency and public accountability related to the granting of these waivers creates the appearance of partiality to favored interests.”
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Administrator Pruitt pledged to use the RFS waiver authority judiciously and to enforce the program consistent with the will of Congress. However, since taking office Administrator Pruitt has repeatedly abused the waiver program to undermine RFS requirements including his decision to issue an exemption to one of the nation’s largest oil refiners. In their letter, Pallone and Peterson urged President Trump to intervene to prevent further misuse of the waiver authority.
“We urge you to instruct EPA to suspend consideration of any additional waiver requests and take steps to improve the transparency and accountability of the waiver program,” Pallone and Peterson continued. “We recognize the difficulty of reconciling the different stakeholder interests in this program. Nevertheless, Administrator Pruitt cannot and should not misuse the authority of his office in an attempt to subvert it to suit favored interests.”