In denial.

Source: BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

EPA denied dozens of requests from oil refineries seeking economic hardship exemptions from ethanol blending requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard dating from 2011 through 2018, adding to a growing list of ethanol-friendly moves from the administration, Pro’s Eric Wolff reports.

In his denial letter, Administrator Andrew Wheeler said he rejected the 54 petitions largely on the advice of the Energy Department, which determined that the refineries did not suffer much hardship in the years in question. While the letter did mention a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruling from January that voided three refinery exemptions from the biofuel blending rules, Wheeler did not cite the court’s opinion as part of his reasoning.

The Trump administration’s handling of the biofuels waivers has become a major flashpoint in GOP Sen. Joni Ernst ‘s reelection race in Iowa. “I’ve been calling for these ‘gap year’ waivers to be thrown out since they were announced,” Ernst said in a statement Monday. “Now, the administration has listened to our calls for action.” A spokesperson for Ernst’s opponent Theresa Greenfield, who has called for Wheeler’s resignation, said the announcement “does nothing to erase the massive economic damage in Iowa caused by Senator Ernst’s vote for a fossil fuel lobbyist to run the EPA.”

Elsewhere, oil-state Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the decision, on top of the Justice Department’s decision not to appeal the 10th Circuit ruling, “all but sounded the death knell on the small refinery exemption program and the thousands of blue collar jobs it helped protect.”