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Smith: EPA Decision on RFS to Boost Rural Economy, Jobs
Minnesota Ag Connection - 02/23/2021

U.S. Senator Tina Smith released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it supports the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' RFS small-refinery requirement ruling, which could limit abuse of small refinery hardship waivers.

"A strong Renewable Fuel Standard is critically important to Minnesota, where ethanol produced from corn creates billions of dollars in economic output and supports thousands of jobs," said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "I applaud the EPA's decision to crack down on the abuse of hardship waivers. It's a welcome change after the last four years, when we saw more than a 300% increase in the use of waivers, and even some large oil companies receiving them. America's biofuels industry is incredibly resilient, and I'll continue to fight for it because I want to see economic development that will help farmers, rural communities, small towns and agribusinesses thrive."

Last week, U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure transparency and predictability to the EPA's small refinery exemption process, which has in recent years undercut the biofuels industry and threatened the economies of rural communities dependent on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Representative Craig's recent appointment to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce positions her to champion biofuels as Congress considers climate change and clean energy packages in the months ahead.

The RFS Integrity Act was quickly endorsed by a wide range of agricultural groups dedicated to protecting and strengthening RFS. Below are statements in support of the Members' bipartisan legislation:

"We applaud the introduction of the RFS Integrity Act and the strong bipartisan effort to restore integrity and transparency to the Renewable Fuel Standard," said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. "The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation's transportation fuel supply every year, not have oil companies use questionable tactics to delay and avoid their blending obligations, creating a tremendous amount of uncertainty for farmers, biofuels producers, and the entire fuel supply chain. We are grateful to Rep. Craig and Rep. Johnson for their continued leadership on this issue."

"We are grateful to Reps. Angie Craig and Dusty Johnson for leading this effort to rein in EPA's abuse of the small refinery exemption program. This bipartisan bill will prevent oil refiners from gaming the system and undercutting the Renewable Fuel Standard, something they have been doing a great deal of the past four years," said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

"This is a commonsense step to ensure that RFS biomass-based diesel volumes are fully met each year and to prevent the demand destruction for biodiesel that we've seen since 2017," said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board. "Biodiesel producers are grateful to Representative Angie Craig and Representative Dusty Johnson for their leadership on this issue and strongly support Congress' desire to restore integrity to the RFS program."

"The EPA's abuse of small refinery waivers not only undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard but significantly impacted corn demand. NCGA appreciates Representatives Craig and Johnson and members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus introducing the RFS Integrity Act," said John Linder, president of the National Corn Growers Association.

"A strong RFS adds value to soybeans while also creating jobs, diversifying our fuel supply, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions," said Kevin Scott, president of the American Soybean Association We applaud Representatives Craig and Johnson on introducing the RFS Integrity Act, which will add much-needed transparency to the small refinery exemption waiver process at the EPA."

"Representative Craig and Johnson's bill is a fundamental step to ensure biofuel-blending volumes are fully met and will provide much-needed clarity for rural America," said Joshua Shields, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications for POET. "Bioethanol producers and farmers deserve transparency in the exemption process and have a right to know the number of gallons of biofuel lost as a result of the waivers and to which companies they are granted."

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