WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, joined the Biofuels Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers focused on supporting biofuels producers by defending the Renewable Fuel Standard and fighting for expanded access to higher biofuel blends.
“As the number one state in ethanol and biodiesel production, it is imperative that Iowa’s biofuels producers have a seat at the table in Washington,” Feenstra said. “Not only does this industry support roughly 50,000 jobs in Iowa, but it also provides our farmers with additional market options. The people of Iowa’s 4th District elected me to deliver results, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Biofuels Caucus to get results for this critical industry.”
Feenstra’s first act as a member of the Biofuels Caucus was joining a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject pending small refinery exemptions (SREs). This comes after reports indicated that the EPA is considering granting last-minute refinery exemptions after they previously committed to rejecting these waivers.
“We are alarmed by reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may issue numerous pending 2019 small refinery exemptions (SREs) despite ongoing legal action and commitments from top EPA officials that this would not occur,” the members wrote. “Granting any of these waiver requests will further devastate America’s rural communities as they continue to struggle amidst a difficult economy.”
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced in September that the agency would reject dozens of waiver requests from refineries, which the Supreme Court ruled were illegal in January of 2020. Now there are 66 exemption requests that remain, and the EPA is considering going back on their promise and granting these waivers — which would adversely impact Iowa farmers and our biofuels industry.
Read the full letter below:
We are alarmed by reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may issue numerous pending 2019 small refinery exemptions (SREs) despite ongoing legal action and commitments from top EPA officials that this would not occur. Granting any of these waiver requests will further devastate America’s rural communities as they continue to struggle amidst a difficult economy.
These illegal small refinery exemptions are contrary to legislative intent and hurt our rural economies; they also impede the use of clean, renewable liquid fuel in the marketplace. This news arrives at the worst time possible as the biofuels industry continues to reel from the economic impacts caused by the COVID19 pandemic. These exemptions, coming on top of 85 waivers already granted by EPA over the past four years, would also cause immense and unnecessary strain to businesses that are desperately trying to keep workers on the payroll.
In September, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler rightfully rejected dozens of spurious and illegal waiver requests from refiners. But now, with 66 more exemption requests pending, Administrator Wheeler’s sudden reversal is a betrayal to Rural America and our local farmers who depend on stable ethanol and biodiesel markets for their corn and soybeans. This move also harms our essential infrastructure workers who provide fuel to keep our economy running, and our critical supply chains that rely on biofuel industry coproducts. All these benefits are at immediate risk if any 2019 waivers are granted.
It would be inappropriate to grant any waiver petitions inconsistent with the law and the Tenth Circuit Court decision in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA until currently pending litigation on this issue has concluded. Therefore, we respectfully request that you direct EPA to immediately reject any pending waiver requests that do not meet the criteria established in Tenth Circuit Court’s decision.