House lawmakers ask EPA to stop issuing RFS waivers

By Erin Voegele | October 16, 2018

On Oct. 15, a group of 19 democratic members of Congress sent a letter to the U.S. EPA expressing concern over the Trump Administration’s widespread issuance of waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“We are concerned that these actions have effectively cut blending targets by 2.25 billion gallons, contributing to higher gas prices and elevated levels of harmful emissions, especially in communities of color,” they wrote. “We therefore urge you to halt the issuance of any additional waivers and to instead consider steps that could help unlock the full health and economic benefits of biofuels.”

According to the letter, transportation emissions are currently the primary source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. The letter also notes that these emissions have been found to cause or aggravate serious health conditions. “The effects of these emissions are not borne evenly across our country,” the letter states. “Evidence continues to mount that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by air pollution, including transportation emissions…Fortunately, the use of biofuels lowers particulate matter and removes harmful aromatics from the transportation fuel supply chain. In addition, ethanol is already used as a replacement for additives like MTBE, helping to keep this and other harmful chemicals out of our drinking water.”

Beyond public health benefits, the letter also notes that biofuels also present a sustainable fuel solution that can reliably lower gas prices for consumers. “However, EPA waivers have served to keep ethanol out of the market, contributing to higher prices at the pump for American consumers and disproportionately harming low-income communities where residents typically spend a higher percentage of their income on transportation costs.”

In addition to halting the issuance of additional RFS waivers, the letter asks EPA to reallocate waived gallons in the 2019 renewable volume obligation (RVO).

Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Danny Davis, D-Ill., led the letter. It was also signed by Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.; Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.; Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y.; Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif.; Salud Carbajal, D-Calif.; Norma Torres, D-Calif.; Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.; Nanette Diaz Barragan, D-Calif.; Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y.; Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y.; Albio Sires, D-N.J.; Donald Payne, Jr., D-N.J.; Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.; Darren Soto, D-Fla.; Juan Vargas, D-Calif.; and Henry Johnson, Jr., D-Ga.

Growth Energy has spoken out to thank the 19 members of Congress who sent the letter. “Families all across the nation are breathing cleaner air and saving money at the pump thanks to homegrown biofuels,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The EPA’s refinery exemptions threaten to undermine that progress, destroying demand for billions of gallons of cleaner, more affordable fuel. We are grateful to our congressional leaders for their efforts to preserve the integrity of the RFS and safeguard the health and well-being of American families.”

A full copy of the letter can be found here.