WASHINGTON DC (December 19, 2019) — Senators Charles "Chuck" Grassley and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today released the following statements regarding the EPA’s final 2020 renewable volume obligations rule under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“Once again, EPA is playing games and not helping President Trump with farmers. An agreement was reached on September 12 in an Oval Office meeting between several Midwest leaders, President Trump, and other members of his Administration. This does not reflect what we agreed to in that meeting. Simply requiring that the three-year rolling average be based on hard data and actual waived gallons rather than Department of Energy recommendations and EPA discretion would solve this problem and ensure the renewable-volume obligations are met. Administrator [Andrew] Wheeler has put the president in a bad situation by not following the law as intended by Congress and as the president has promised to uphold.
“No matter what EPA says about the impact of its waivers to oil companies making billions in profits, farmers and biofuels producers know and feel the negative impact of the agency’s actions. I will hold EPA’s feet to the fire to make certain they abide by the Department of Energy’s recommendations and ensure integrity in the RFS. Whether that happens is up to Admin Wheeler and the president’s support among farmers is in his hands.
“The magic words from the Oval Office meeting were three-year rolling average based on hard data and actual waived gallons. Abiding by this would have solved all the problem’s EPA has created,” Sen Grassley said.
“Throughout this process, I, along with Sen Grassley and Gov Reynolds have made it crystal clear that Iowa’s farmers and biofuel producers need certainty that EPA will follow the law. After shaking hands in the Oval Office this fall, EPA had an opportunity to restore the broken trust of farmers and to follow through on the president’s commitment, but it appears they’ve missed the mark…again. We were guaranteed a deal in September, and we were assured of that same deal in October, yet EPA rolled out, and has now finalized, a different proposal. It’s no wonder trust has been lost.
“While I’m hopeful we get to the 15 billion or more gallons of ethanol that we’ve been promised, I clearly understand the hesitation from Iowans to trust the word of EPA to actually follow through on that commitment. I believe President Trump wants to do right for the biofuels community — we’ve seen that with E15 year-round and most recently the biodiesel tax incentive. But Admin Wheeler should know: This is not the end. I will continue to fight tirelessly to make sure that my fellow Iowans have a seat at the table when it comes to renewable fuels. We will keep holding EPA’s feet to the fire to ensure they truly uphold the RFS, the law, as intended and fully implement the other critical aspects of this rule,” Sen Ernst said.
Sen Grassley has been a steadfast advocate for ethanol and environmentally-friendly alternative energy throughout his time as a US senator. Last year, he joined a bipartisan group of 35 senators urging EPA to increase volume obligations for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuel and to ensure any small refiner economic-hardship exemptions are appropriately accounted for in its final rule for the RFS. Grassley is also an original co-sponsor of the RFS Integrity Act of 2019, which would ensure the EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual renewable volume obligations it sets each November.
Sen Grassley sent a letter to DOE requesting information on its review process of “hardship waivers” as it provides recommendations on exemption requests to the EPA. DOE responded to his letter explaining that the EPA went against its recommendations and were issuing waivers to refineries that faced little or no actual hardship. Sen Grassley has urged the EPA to outline its plan to make the waiver process more transparent. He’s also led efforts pressing the EPA to stop issuing these “hardship waivers” to obligated refiners and to highlight the importance of the RFS to President Trump and his Administration.
Sen Grassley helped lead the effort to encourage the Trump administration to approve E15 for year-round sales to help farmers, consumers, and the country. In May of this year, the EPA finalized a new rule lifting the ban.
Growth Energy, one of the leading biofuels trade-associations in the country, presented Sen Grassley with the “Fueling Growth Award,” this year for his work to get E15 sold year-round and constant efforts to advance, support and defend renewable fuels and the RFS. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said then, “Sen Grassley has fought and won more battles for Iowa farmers and biofuels producers than anyone in Washington. We’re deeply grateful for his tireless dedication to protecting the role of biofuels in America’s fuel mix and opening new opportunities for the agricultural economy. He understands the incredible challenges facing America’s farm families, and he works every day to ensure their voices are heard.”
On November 4, over 60 corn, soybean, and biofuel groups wrote a letter stating that the EPA’s supplemental rule would not accurately account for small refinery exemptions and would hurt farm economies and biofuel plants in rural America. Their letter can be found here.