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Grassley, Ernst, Midwest Colleagues Call on EPA to Protect the Integrity of the RFS

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) joined their colleagues from the Midwest, Sens. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) in sending a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging him to avoid making any decisions on small refinery exemptions (SREs) until after the Supreme Court rules in the Renewable Fuels Association et. al. v. EPA case.

“Alarming new reports indicate that your Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may issue numerous pending small refinery exemptions (SREs) which would be a devastating blow to biofuels producers and the farmers who sell to them,” the members wrote.

“Ethanol and biodiesel plants that are already struggling to cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 are at risk of closing their doors, cutting off key markets for farmers. Many biofuel plants have already been forced to shutter their doors over the past four years… Granting additional SREs at this time would be inconsistent with the unanimous Tenth Circuit ruling in Renewable Fuels Association et. al. v. EPA. We therefore implore you to summarily freeze any decisions on the pending SREs until the Supreme Court has ruled,” the members concluded.

 “Small refinery exemptions have stifled demand for biodiesel production’s primary feedstock, soybean oil. This last-ditch effort by EPA would not only deal another blow to soybean demand but also run contradictory to the Tenth Circuit ruling as another attempt to undermine the RFS. We’re grateful for our two stalwart champions of homegrown biofuels in the U.S. Senate, Senators Ernst and Grassley, and thank them for standing up to the EPA at a time when farmers, biodiesel producers, and rural communities are already dealing with the economic realities of Covid-19 and last August’s historic derecho,” Iowa Soybean Association President Jeff Jorgenson said.

“Granting additional illegal RFS exemptions, despite the public commitment of Administrator Wheeler to hold off from future RFS actions, would be another in a series of body blows inflicted on the renewable fuels industry over the last four years. Iowans will not forget those who flip-flop on their commitments. Neither will Iowans forget how our elected champions, like Sens. Ernst and Grassley, fought tirelessly over the last four years to forestall and even repair the damage inflicted by the Trump EPA. As we turn our gaze to the future, we can only hope for more honesty and integrity in the implementation of the RFS over the next four years,” Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw said.

“EPA’s continued abuse of hardship exemptions for oil refiners in the waning hours of Administrator Wheeler’s tenure is another blatant attempt to undermine the RFS law, and will cause lasting damage to biodiesel producers, who make up a vital U.S. manufacturing industry. We thank Senators Grassley and Ernst for continuing to fight for American-made fuel and our heartland farmers,” Iowa Biodiesel Board Executive Director Grant Kimberley said.

“Issuing these unjustified small refinery exemptions (SRE) would be yet another hit to the already slashed corn ethanol demand due to the global pandemic and historic natural disasters. We applaud Senators Ernst and Grassley for urging EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to diverge these efforts and guide his EPA to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Iowa Corn Growers Association President Carl Jardon said.

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