Walz, Noem urge Trump to mitigate effects of SREs

By Erin Voegele | September 05, 2019

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sent a letter to President Trump Sept. 4 urging him to mitigate the effects of small refinery exemptions (SREs). Walz and Noem are the chair and vice chair of the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition.

“Every waiver EPA approved affects our states,” the governors wrote. “The recent approval of 31 additional small refinery waivers undermines the integrity of the RFS and harms our states’ agricultural communities, which have already been affected by the Administration’s tariffs.  Since 2016, your Administration has issued 85 exemptions, representing a loss of over 4.3 billion gallons of ethanol. We are hearing from farmers and renewable fuel producers that the waivers are the reason an increasing number of renewable fuel plants are closing or idling production.”

Walz and Noem also indicated that they are “heartened…by reports that [Trump] will announce a plan to mitigate the effects of the small refinery waivers next week” and urge the president to consider several specific steps as that plan is developed. 

Within the letter the governors ask that the U.S. EPA add the lost gallons to the pending rule to set 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard. They also ask that Trump initiative another Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership program through USDA so states and private partners can match more federal funds and improve consumer access to renewable fuels.

“In addition to addressing these RFS issues, there are several other steps you can take to help expand the market for ethanol,” Walz and Noem wrote. “For example, increasing the minimum octane standard in gasoline to create an immediate market for more ethanol and eliminate the need to import octane.  You could also direct EPA to enforce the Clean Air Act requirement to replace the aromatic toxics in gasoline, which would allow refiners to use ethanol—a less expensive source of octane.”

A full copy of the letter is available on Walz’s website.