Corn-state lawmakers call for immediate stop on RFS waivers

30 Apr 2018 |

Lawmakers in US House of Representatives have called for the US Environmental Protection Agency to “immediately cease” the granting of waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard as the corn lobby counts the cost of falling demand for ethanol because of exemptions doled out to refiners.

The letter, co-signed by four members of Congress in corn-producing states, echoes a similar petition filed by senators earlier in April, and heaps further political pressure on EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

In the past six months, Pruitt has overseen a big increase in waivers issued to refineries, some of which are owned by energy majors including Chevron and ExxonMobil.

“The objectives of the RFS are to spur innovation, grow our economy, give consumers choice at the pump, and increase our national security through energy independence. Unfortunately, these reported waivers undermine objectives,” said the lawmakers’ letter.

“We therefore request that you immediately cease all waiver activity under the RFS and make clear that the EPA will only consider small refinery waivers during the annual RVO rulemaking process,” the lawmakers added.

The letter said the waivers handed out to refiners through the RFS had cut demand for ethanol by 1.5 billion gallons.

“To put that into perspective, a loss of 1 billion gallons of biofuel production translates into the loss of 2.1 million acres of corn, equal to the entire annual harvested corn acres in the state of Michigan. This also comes at a time where net farm income is expected to be at its lowest since levels since 2006,” said the letter, which was co-signed by Rodney Davis (Illinois), Collin Peterson (Minnesota) , Kristi Noem (South Dakota) and Dave Loebsack (Iowa).

Earlier last week, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said waivers from fulfilling biofuel blending obligations, which are handed out in secret, may have cut at least 1.6 billion gallons of biofuels from the anticipated mandates in 2016 and 2017.

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