15 senators ask EPA to waive 2020 RFS blending requirements

By Erin Voegele | May 20, 2020

A group of 15 republican senators sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on May 19 urging the agency to grant petitions filed by six state governors last month that seek a waiver of 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard blending requirements.

The letter discusses the drop in transportation fuel demand caused by COVID-19 and increased renewable identification number (RIN) prices. “Congress has given you the authority to reduce RVOs if ‘implementation…would severely harm the economy… of a State, a region, or the United States.’ If there ever was a time to use your authority, it is now,” the senators wrote.

The letter also addresses the EPA’s plan to account for future small refinery exemptions (SREs) that was contained in its 2020 RFS rulemaking and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals January 2020 ruling that, if implemented nationally, is expected to significantly reduce the number of refineries that can qualify as SREs. The senators argue that the result of these two factors means the agency’s 2020 blending requirements have been set too high.

“In 2005, when enacting the RFS, Congress provided the Administrator of the EPA the authority to prevent this program from contributing to severe economic harm in a state, a region, or the nation,” the senators wrote. “Since then, your predecessors have not found cause to use this authority. Whether prior petitions merited approval or not, there should be no doubt about the threat that the 2020 RVOs pose to our states’ economies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A failure to grant, in part or in whole, the governors’ petitions would render this provision within the Clean Air Act utterly meaningless. It would be a gross example of a federal agency nullifying an act of Congress.”

The letter is signed by Sens John Barrasso, R-Wyo; John Kennedy, R-La.; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; James Risch, R-Idaho; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; and John Cornyn, R-Texas.

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works website