EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler expects to announce within days what the Trump administration will do about a recent appeals court decision striking down three small refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Wheeler told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Thursday that the decision on how to respond to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling would be made “very shortly,” but that EPA has to defer to the Department of Justice, which represents EPA in the litigation. Later, he told reporters that the decision would be out within days. 

Responding to Iowa Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, Wheeler said he could not confirm the accuracy of a Bloomberg News article reporting that EPA planned to reduce the number of SREs granted to oil refineries.

“We’re still in discussions with the Department of Justice,” Wheeler said, adding, “President Trump is fully committed to the RFS program.”

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Loebsack also asked whether EPA could make public the names and locations of refineries receiving SREs, but Wheeler said that would depend on what the companies claimed as confidential business information.

Much of the hearing focused on proposed cuts to specific programs, such as oversight of local drinking water systems and “geographic programs” targeted at specific water bodies such as the San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound, both of which would be “zeroed out” under the administration’s budget.

Wheeler repeated a claim he made last fall that San Francisco has been discharging more than a billion gallons per year of combined sewage and stormwater into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The administration has linked the homeless crisis in San Francisco with the discharge of untreated human waste into the Bay.

At the hearing, Wheeler said 1.5 billion gallons of sewage was washing into the Bay, which Rep. Nanette Diaz Barregán, D-Calif., called “misleading and fraudulent.” When she then asked about cuts in the agency’s Targeted Airshed program, Wheeler fired back, “Are you interested in the facts, or are you just interested in making a speech?”

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