Bipartisan group of House members demands Trump deny RFS waivers

By Ron Kotrba | June 08, 2020

Forty-four bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Trump demanding that his administration uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard by denying recent requests to waive the 2020 RFS volumes. The letter was led by Reps. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa; Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa; Roger Marshall, R-Kansas; Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota; and Rodney Davis, R-Illinois.

“The effects of COVID-19, on top of the damage caused by abuse of the small refinery exemption waivers, have caused more than 150 biofuel plants to either completely or partially idle production,” the representatives wrote. “This means that over 50 percent of U.S. ethanol production capacity has ceased operations, resulting in economic uncertainty for our rural economies and the loss of a critical market for corn farmers. At an already turbulent time for ethanol and biodiesel producers, we must take action to support—not undermine—the industry and our farmers.”

The legislators wrote that they stand ready to work with Trump on ways to deliver continued investment and support for biofuels. “They offer an immediately available and proven path towards decarbonizing the transportation sector, driving economic growth, creating jobs, and improving air quality,” the representatives wrote, concerning biofuels. “We need to make sure that our rural economies are in the best possible position to recover from this crisis and any move to weaken the RFS would only put us further behind.”

The letter makes clear that proposed waivers undercut the RFS and run contrary to the EPA’s established precedents.

“This administration’s unprecedented and unwarranted attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard have hurt Iowa farmers and have directly resulted in jobs losses and plant closures in our communities,” Finkenauer said. “Waiving Renewable Fuel Standard requirements would hurt—not help—the economy, putting rural communities in greater danger as they fight the effects of President Trump’s trade war and the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic. Granting these requests would be a betrayal of our farmers.”

Kurt Kovarik, the National Biodiesel Board’s vice president of federal affairs, thanked the group and said, “An RFS waiver would be unjustified and simply compound the economic challenges that biodiesel producers and farmers face. Further, it would undercut a successful environmental policy that is transitioning the United States to better, cleaner fuels.”

Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, said, “The pandemic has damaged the market for biofuels and further harmed farmers in an already struggling farm economy. We appreciate [Rep. Finkenauer’s] leadership in standing with our farmers and rural economies during this difficult time, and we are grateful that all of Iowa’s Congressional Representatives joined her in signing this letter. We urge President Trump to heed calls from Congress to deny any request for statewide or nationwide waivers from the 2020 RFS blending requirements under the Clean Air Act.” 

The full letter and complete list of signatories can be accessed here.


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