U.S. House members introduce bill addressing RFS waivers

Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) proposed legislation today that would set a deadline for small refinery exemption (SRE) waivers and increase transparency in the SRE process. Titled the “Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019,” the bill would bring necessary changes to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions that have removed billions of ethanol gallons from the nation’s fuel supply.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) applauds the legislation, which establishes an annual June 1 deadline for refineries to submit SRE petitions. By setting the deadline, the EPA would be able to recoup biofuel gallons lost through waivers in Renewable Volume Obligations. The bill would also remove the secrecy around what refineries are being granted SRE waivers.

MCGA President Brian Thalmann released the following statement:

“Minnesota’s corn farmers greatly appreciate the work of Congressmen Collin Peterson and Ron Johnson to bring much-needed transparency and a formal timeline to the EPA’s small refinery exemption process. Our state’s ethanol industry is a vital market for its 24,000 corn farmers, who continue to be impacted by exemptions taking billions of ethanol gallons from the nation’s fuel supply. This bill would make it possible to recoup future lost gallons while identifying what refineries are qualifying for an exemption.” 

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommending actions that would help corn farmers during the China trade dispute, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) stressed the need for the reallocation of gallons lost through SRE waivers and improved transparency. While the trade aid packaged announced on Thursday did not include these recommendations, this bill would make tremendous progress on necessary changes in the waiver process.

Within the past year, the EPA has granted 54 exemptions to refineries, waiving 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel blending under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The EPA has another 39 waiver petitions pending, with decisions from EPA expected in the coming weeks.

MCGA will continue working with NCGA to champion legislation like the bill proposed by Rep. Peterson and Rep. Johnson that stops ongoing harm to the ethanol market and benefits corn farmers during challenging times.

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