A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is urging President Donald Trump to order the Environmental Protection Agency not to issue waivers to the nation's biofuel mandate in the last week of his administration.
Members of the House Biofuels Caucus, some 23 Republicans and Democrats, sent a letter to the White House Tuesday saying the EPA should reject any Small Refinery Exemptions "that do not meet the criteria established" in a court decision issued last year.
This action comes after Reuters reported EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler was expected to grant SREs before he leaves his post.
“Granting any of these waiver requests will further devastate America’s rural communities as they continue to struggle amidst a difficult economy,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
Small refineries producing less than 75,000 barrels per day may apply for a waiver if they're concerned complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard would cause them undue economic harm.
The letter further stated granting the waivers would be a “betrayal” to rural America and local farmers who depend on ethanol and biodiesel plants to sell their corn and soybeans.
The EPA has yet to act on 66 SREs dating from compliance years 2011 to 2020, according to an agency dashboard. This issue of granting exemptions has been a contentious one throughout the Trump presidency as he tried to please both biofuel and the oil sectors.
Trump’s EPA is currently in a legal battle over issuing SREs that has led to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear arguments on a case appealing a ruling issued nearly a year ago by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling struck down three SREs and created a new rationale for the EPA to follow in considering future waivers.
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Roughly 85 exemptions have been granted over the last four years, the letter stated. Biofuel groups praised the House members for their quick action.
“With the Trump administration now its final days, we call on all renewable fuel champions to speak up loudly and clearly in defense of the RFS," Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said.
Cooper stated the stakes were high for the health of rural America as well as the nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.
The incoming Biden administration is also being asked to take action on SREs. In a letter to President-elect Joe Biden earlier this week, six Democratic senators — Tammy Duckworth and Richard Durbin of Illinois, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith of Minnesota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and presumptive Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow of Michigan — say Biden should "direct EPA to adopt the Tenth Circuit decision nationwide and strictly reject any pending and future" SRE petitions that fall short of the standard laid out in that ruling.
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