Group of House Republicans Asks Wheeler to Change Biofuels Proposal

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2019

A group of Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives has asked EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to reconsider a proposal to account for small-refinery exemptions in future years, in a letter sent to Wheeler earlier this week.

Agriculture and biofuels interests have expressed concern about the proposal, claiming it would not fully account for future exemptions. Between 2016 and 2018 the EPA granted 85 such waivers totaling more than 4 billion gallons of ethanol-equivalent gallons.

“Despite the EPA’s acknowledgement of the 31 small-refinery exemptions issued on Aug. 9, 2019, which appeared to prompt the need for a course correction, this announcement falls short and does not offer the relief that was promised to our farmers,” the lawmakers write in the letter.

They said the exemptions have been “devastating” to their local economies.

“This announcement does more harm than good for our producers and lends to even greater uncertainty in this challenging farm economy,” the lawmakers said. “As published, the proposed rule, despite outlining several potential approaches to reallocate a fraction of the lost gallons, states that the EPA may consider adjusting methodology for projecting the exempt volumes of gasoline and diesel.”

The letter is signed by Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois; Roger Marshall, R-Kansas; Mike Bost, R-Illinois; Sam Graves, R-Kansas; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska; James Comer, R-Kentucky; Don Bacon, R-Nebraska; Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota; Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota; Ann Wagner, R-Missouri; Darin LaHood, R-Illinois; and Steve Watkins, R-Kansas.

“We urge you to reconsider as you move forward to publish a rule that lends to confidence in the process, requiring the EPA to use the average number of small-refinery exemptions granted in the previous three calendar years when formulating the renewable volumes obligation for an upcoming year, as conveyed to stakeholders,” the letter said. “Furthermore, any final rule must bring assurance to farmers and producers not just for the 2020 RVO, but permanently, given the damages caused by these exemptions.

“We cannot support a proposal that does not set our farmers and producers on a path toward certainty by ensuring that a fix applies to all future years.”

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

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