U.S. Sen. Tina Smith Remains Skeptical of EPA’s Proposed Targets for Ethanol, Other Renewable Fuels to be Blended into Nation’s Fuel Supply in 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/26/18]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said she is skeptical of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels the agency says will be blended into the nation’s gasoline supply in 2019. 

Sen. Smith, who has pressed for expanded use of renewables, said the EPA-announced target of 19.88 billion gallons—required under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)—does not specify how refiners will make up for the gallons lost from controversial EPA-granted waivers. Earlier this year, the agency granted a “financial hardship” waiver to an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, exempting the facility from RFS rules, and reportedly saving it tens of millions of dollars in related RFS costs. Such waivers will cut demand for ethanol by an estimated 1.6 billion gallons, according to the Minnesota Biofuels Association.  

“A strong Renewable Fuels Standard is critically important to Minnesota, where ethanol produced from corn creates an estimated $6.7 billion in economic output and supports almost 18,000 jobs across the state,” said Sen. Smith. “But if the EPA is going continue to allow refineries to get around RFS requirements by granting them waivers, the amount of ethanol and other renewables used in the nation’s fuel supply will fall far short of the target levels announced today. The EPA needs to step up and ensure that our nation meets the 19.88 billion target, and I plan to hold them accountable for doing so.”

The 2019 target of 19.88 billion gallons of renewable fuels blended into the nation’s fuel supply is scheduled to be finalized by November 30.  It includes 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol. In Minnesota, the state’s 19 corn ethanol plants can produce 1.2 billion gallons each year.