All eyes on Grassley, Ernst as Pruitt pushes the RFS envelope

Source: By Kelsey Tamborrino, Poltiico • Posted: Monday, June 4, 2018

Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have issued a sea of angry statements opposing Pruitt’s expanded use of the small refinery waiver from the Renewable Fuel Standard, but with news that Pruitt will now grant retroactive waivers, biofuel watchers are wondering whether the two will lower the boom.

What may have been the proverbial last straw for the camel was news reported on Thursday by Reuters that EPA was granting RFS compliance credits to HollyFrontier and Sinclair Oil because they had been denied waivers by Obama’s EPA in 2014. The move, which is worth millions of dollars to both companies, makes clear that rather than curtailing the waivers, Pruitt will instead continue to find creative ways to grant them. Grassley, Ernst, and the rest of Gang Grain have been urging EPA to reassign the gallons lost to the waivers to large refiners, and if EPA agrees to that measure, they may be mollified. Reassignment has been the thrust of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s negotiations with EPA to this point.

Ernst has been willing to throw her weight around in the past, forcing Pruitt to issue a letter promising not to reduce biodiesel volumes in exchange for her vote to advance now-Air Administrator Bill Wehrum out of committee. EPA has two nominees awaiting hearings, but Ernst did not mention either of them in a statement issued Thursday. “Administrator Pruitt needs to understand that his actions to continue to grant waivers, now retroactively, to oil refineries is undermining the Renewable Fuel Sta