Sen. Amy Klobuchar led a bipartisan group of 16 senators, including her colleague, Sen. Tina Smith, who urged EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to immediately reject the 52 recently filed exemption petitions for prior compliance years. The letter expresses the senators’ frustration and alarm that Administrator Wheeler is considering exemptions for refineries that either did not submit petitions or were not granted waivers in past years but are now seeking to circumvent a January 2020 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
“We write with frustration and significant concern about recent reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering granting over 50 petitions for Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for past compliance years,” the letter stated. “We urge you to reject these petitions outright and respond in writing to our questions about recent use of SREs under the RFS. Granting these petitions would worsen the unprecedented economic challenges facing the biofuels industry and the rural communities that it supports while violating EPA’s own policy on this issue.”
Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs, commended the senators’ action.
“Biodiesel producers and soybean farmers across the country are already facing unprecedented economic challenges. A brand-new flood of unlawful small refinery exemptions is guaranteed to compound the damage from the past several years. The senators are exactly right that EPA should immediately reject these petitions as inconsistent with a federal court decision. We thank Senators Amy Klobuchar and Joni Ernst for their leadership.”
The letter is signed by Sens. Klobuchar (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Thune (R-SD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Deb Fischer (R-NE).
Recognized by the EPA as the first advanced biofuel in the industry, biodiesel supports nearly 60,000 jobs nationwide and more than 5,000 jobs in Minnesota alone, and contributes nearly $1.7 billion toward Minnesota’s economy. Biodiesel is also an environmental winner, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent.
“By every measure, biodiesel has been a success for Minnesota’s farmers and economy,” Klobuchar told farmer leaders in 2018.