More than a dozen Republican senators are demanding that President Donald Trump bar Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue from having any input into whether small refineries get exemptions from biofuel usage mandates
In a letter to Trump led by Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., 13 senators say allowing Perdue to consult with the Environmental Protection Agency on the awarding of small refinery exemptions would require an act of Congress because “the law does not give any authority or role over the petitions to the Secretary of Agriculture.”
“We would view any decisions to further delay, reduce, or deny hardship relief to small refineries, or reallocate the obligations of small refineries to other refineries, as the result of the Secretary of Agriculture’s impermissible interference,” the senators say. “We are confident that others, including the federal courts, would do the same.”
The letter also illustrates other cases where the EPA administrator is to consult with both the agriculture and energy secretaries, but notes the SRE language only lists the secretary of energy.
The 13 Republicans who signed the letter are Barrasso and fellow Wyoming Republican Mike Enzi, Jim Inhofe and Jim Lankford of Oklahoma, Roger Wicker, R-Miss., John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Steve Daines, R-Mont. Four signatories — Barrasso, Inhofe, Moore Capito, and Wicker — sit on the EPW committee.
The letter follows other efforts to sound off on Perdue’s role in the SRE debate. Last week, a similar group of senators — sans Lankford, Cornyn, Moore Capito, and Daines — called on EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to reject a call from Senate Democrats to cease issuing the waivers. Kennedy also placed a hold on three USDA nominations awaiting Senate confirmation: Scott Hutchins, Mindy Brashears, and Naomi Earp.
The senators say the waivers allow small refiners relief from the regulatory burden of complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard, the mandate stating the amount of biofuels needed to be blended into the nation’s gasoline supply. Critics of the waivers say they undercut biofuel demand by not requiring investments necessary to bring more biofuels to market.
A spokesperson for Perdue did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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