WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a family farmer and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement regarding EPA’s proposed volume obligations for 2019 under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“Buried in this proposal is the alarming admission that Administrator Pruitt has already cut at least 2.25 billion gallons of conventional biofuels from the Renewable Fuel Standard. That’s a gut punch to Midwest farmers, to President Trump and to the rule of law. Congress intended 15 billion gallons, President Trump promised 15 billion gallons, and it’s up to Administrator Pruitt to achieve 15 billion gallons. So far, Administrator Pruitt has failed. But he can make it right by reallocating waived obligations in the final rule. Otherwise, Administrator Pruitt should let someone else do the job who won’t continue to undermine the President. This would be a commonsense step to repairing the damage already done and rebuilding trust between Administrator Pruitt and Midwest farmers.
“As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I also have concerns that EPA may be ignoring or abusing the Administrative Procedure Act as they continue to grant waivers in secret and refuse to respond to congressional oversight and public information requests regarding the practice. The public’s business ought to be public, and hiding behind bureaucracy and poor excuses isn’t going to work.
“The topline numbers are encouraging, but I’m highly skeptical. As we’ve seen over the last year, it’s not the proposal or even the final rule that matters as much as what actually happens. Last year, EPA’s initial proposal wasn’t perfect, but we could’ve lived with it. Then in the fall, we got word that EPA planned to cut the rates significantly. After a lot of back-and-forth with the Administration, EPA upheld the President’s commitment to 15 billion gallons for conventional biofuels. But many months later, we found out that EPA was secretly cutting billions of gallons from the Renewable Fuel Standard by issuing so-called ‘hardship’ waivers to multibillion dollar oil refining companies, exempting them from their legal obligations. The situation is made worse by reports that show EPA is ignoring Department of Energy advice on these waivers and again overstepping its authority and undermining the spirit and letter of the law. EPA was giving with one hand and taking with the other. At this point, it’s hard to take any announcement on the Renewable Fuel Standard seriously until after it’s been implemented.
“I’d like to work with Administrator Pruitt to help him rebuild trust with Congress and with farmers, but it’s going to take concrete steps in the near future, otherwise there’s no reason to believe much from EPA.”