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Bipartisan Rebuke of Trump's Last-Minute RFS Reversal
Nebraska Ag Connection - 01/14/2021

America's top biofuel and farm advocates called on President Trump to reject last-minute attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and American farmers throughout the country, a plan reported to be under consideration by Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The following joint statement was issued by the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, Fuels America, Growth Energy, the National Biodiesel Board, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Farmers Union, and the Renewable Fuels Association:

Wedneday, U.S. Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota joined other members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus in a bipartisan effort urging the Trump Administration to reaffirm their commitment to Rural America by rejecting all pending small refinery exemptions (SREs) -- which could allow more than sixty additional oil refineries nationwide to circumvent renewable fuel volume obligations mandated by the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard.

In a letter addressed to President Trump, the members expressed alarm at recent reporting on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) plan to issue dozens of SREs in the final days of the Trump Administration -- despite outstanding litigation in the federal courts and previous commitments from top EPA officials that such waivers would not be granted. The members, who represent rural communities across America, argued that these exemptions would harm rural economies and threaten the biofuels industry, which continues to struggle with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In September, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler rightfully rejected dozens of spurious and illegal waiver requests from refiners," wrote the co-chairs. "But now, with 66 more exemption requests pending, Administrator Wheeler's sudden reversal is a betrayal to Rural America and our local farmers who depend on stable ethanol and biodiesel markets for their corn and soybeans. This move also harms our essential infrastructure workers who provide fuel to keep our economy running, and our critical supply chains that rely on biofuel industry coproducts. All these benefits are at immediate risk if any 2019 waivers are granted."

"Reports indicate that the EPA is considering a last-minute flood of oil industry waivers, along with other regulatory favors, that would sabotage the rural recovery and shatter this administration's promises to supporters across the heartland. There is no justification for President Trump, Andrew Wheeler, and their allies to award a massive, short-sighted handout to oil companies at the expense of farm communities. While no one benefits from months of economic uncertainty, if the EPA opts to follow this disastrous course, we would expect the Biden administration to act quickly to reverse the damage and put lost gallons back on the market."

In the face of bipartisan opposition as well as several legal challenges, the Trump Administration has issued 85 blending waivers over the last four years -- in what some have categorized as a giveaway to the oil industry at the expense of struggling farmers in rural communities. Earlier this year, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump Administration's issuance of additional waivers had exceeded statutory authority and were deemed unlawful. That ruling has been challenged and is still pending litigation. Earlier this year, top officials at the EPA assured the nation's farmers that such exemptions would be halted as part of the Administration's "commitment to support America's farmers." The co-chairs of the Biofuels Caucus argued that the Administration's reversal would represent "a betrayal to Rural America and our local farmers..."

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