WASHINGTON –The National Farmers Union is asking for more transparency in light of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ongoing misappropriation of small refinery exemptions (SREs), the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change within the Committee on Energy and Commerce today hosted a hearing on how those exemptions have undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the American biofuels industry.
Under the RFS, 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol and 2.4 billion gallons of biodiesel are required to be blended into transportation fuel. However, EPA has waived that requirement for 85 oil refineries over the past three years, a rate quadruple that of the previous administration. As a result, the amount of corn ethanol and biodiesel in the transportation sector during that time has been under the benchmark, amounting to a cumulative 4-billion-gallon decline in demand. Nearly 30 ethanol and biodiesel plants have consequently halted production.
In addition to soliciting feedback on the waivers’ implications, the subcommittee is also considering H.R. 3006, a bill that would set an annual deadline of June 1 for small refineries to petition for an exemption from the upcoming year’s volume requirements as well as require public disclosure of any information included in those petitions.
National Farmers Union (NFU) Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew submitted written testimony to the subcommittee, emphasizing the damage inflicted by the waivers and urging them to support H.R. 3006.
“The EPA’s flagrant mishandling of small refinery exemptions has caused considerable harm to the biofuels industry. Family farmers have lost millions of dollars of hard-earned income, hundreds of rural Americans have lost their jobs, and rural communities across the country have lost local businesses that have contributed to economic growth.
“If that weren’t enough, EPA provided no warning or justification whatsoever for its rapid expansion of waivers, creating significant market volatility and uncertainty. We strongly urge the subcommittee to minimize this uncertainty and prevent the abuse of exemptions in the future by supporting H.R. 3006, which would increase transparency and predictability in the exemption granting process.”