A group of 44 Midwest lawmakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump on June 8, asking the president to deny any blanket requests for waivers from the Renewable Fuels Standard.
"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% 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."
"We stand ready to work with you on ways to deliver on continued investment and support for biofuels,” the letter continues. “They offer an immediately available and proven path towards decarbonizing the transportation sector, driving economic growth, creating jobs, and improving air quality. 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 Environmental Protection Agency’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,” said Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa.
Last month, Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with other Midwest senators, sent a similar bipartisan letter to President Trump. Five Midwest governors, 70 mayors and the Governors' Biofuels Coalition have also submitted similar letters.
The National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, Renewable Fuels Association, and Growth Energy are all supportive of calls to reject blanket statewide and national waivers.
"With the significant slowdown of ethanol production already reducing corn demand and impacting corn prices, unjustified requests to waive the RFS would bring more economic harm to agriculture," said Kevin Ross, president of the National Corn Growers Association.
". . . An RFS waiver would be unjustified and simply compound the economic challenges that biodiesel producers and farmers face," said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs, National Biodiesel Board. "Further, it would undercut a successful environmental policy that is transitioning the United States to better, cleaner fuels."
"These lawmakers understand that caving into the whims of the oil industry and waiving the RFS would not only be illegal, but it would also have devastating impacts on an industry already reeling from the effects of COVID-19," said Geoff Cooper, CEO, Renewable Fuels Association.
"Oil industry efforts to waive the RFS would do nothing to reverse the market challenges facing all fuel makers, but they would eliminate a vital economic lifeline for thousands of rural workers, biofuel producers, and farmers who already face unprecedented hardship," said Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy. "It’s past time for the administration to declare these schemes dead on arrival, so we can all get back to rebuilding America’s agricultural supply chain in the wake of COVID-19"