Senator Had Repeatedly Called on Trump Administration to Address Abuse of Small Refinery Hardship Waivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. [12/19/19]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee—released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced final biofuel-blending quotas that fall short of accounting for the harmful abuse of small refinery waivers granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending targets.

President Trump announced in early October that he would take steps to make up for the abuse of small refinery waivers, which have allowed oil refineries to avoid using four billion gallons of biofuels. But the Administration’s plan released mid-October accounted for a fraction—less than half—of the gallons of biofuels that have been lost. Now, Sen. Smith says the final blending targets are again disappointing and not what Minnesotans or Americans deserve.

“A strong Renewable Fuel Standard is important to rural communities, farmers, clean energy producers and agribusinesses. The RFS supports thousands of local jobs and helps lead to billions of dollars in economic activity, it cuts our dependence on foreign oil, and it helps fight global warming,” said Sen. Smith. “As I’ve said before, people were kind of feeling hopeful when the President talked about a 15 billion gallon blend assurance, after what’s been a really cruddy year for corn producers and ethanol facilities—some of whom are literally going out of business. This is another frustrating bait and switch by the President. His pro-oil and gas agenda stands out starkly in a week when we in Congress are about to pass a long-overdue extension of the biodiesel tax credit.”

In October, Sen. Smith pressed U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky about the Administration’s policy on the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels blended into the nation’s gasoline supply at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing. Sen. Smith has also pressed EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to take action, pointing out that the granting of waivers had increased by 370 percent with “small refinery” waivers going to large oil companies under the Trump Administration.

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