President Donald Trump is instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to deny small refinery petitions in the Renewable Fuel Standard, potentially neutralizing a nagging campaign issue for Republicans, Reuters reports.
Reuters cited three sources saying that Trump “has instructed that dozens of oil refiner requests for retroactive waivers from U.S. biofuel laws be denied” fearing he could face backlash from farm country at the ballot box in November. The issue also has been complicating Republican efforts to retain control of the Senate because of the importance of Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst's close re-election race.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said last month that Trump had “sold out” American farmers by not rejecting the waiver requests.
Neither the White House nor EPA immediately responded to a request Wednesday for comment.
Biofuel industry supporters, including the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and American Coalition for Ethanol, welcomed the announcement.
“If the reports are accurate, it is our hope that EPA swiftly acts upon the President’s directive and closes the door once and for all on the refiners’ brazen attempt to rewrite history,” a joint statement said.
On Tuesday, 93 farm organizations, biofuel stakeholders, and plant managers sent a letter to Trump asking him to “stand up against an urgent threat facing rural communities” and reject the exemptions.
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The EPA had yet to decide on a total of 98 pending waiver requests, 67 of those are retroactive for compliance years 2011 through 2018.
The report also comes a few days after CVR Refining and HollyFrontier Corp.’s request Friday for the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling by the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court decision struck down three small refinery exemptions that were granted improperly by EPA. In April, the refiners asked the same court to re-hear the case and the request was unanimously denied.