Oil state senators urge EPA to waive RFS blending requirements

By Erin Voegele | March 29, 2021

A group of 13 republican oil state senators on March 25 sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan urging the agency to use its general waiver authority to reduce Renewable Fuel Standard blending requirements.

The letter cites challenges faced by the oil refining industry, including impacts on fuel markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and RFS compliance costs. It also references petitions filed last year by a bipartisan group of six governors and several small refineries requesting RFS waivers.

“The renewable fuels for the 2020 compliance year have already been produced and blended,” the senators wrote. “Thus, a waiver presents no risk of harm to the biofuels industry. This necessary action would provide a degree of relief for these states and avert additional refinery closures and the ensuing economic ripple effects. If relief is not provided in a timely manner, more refineries will be forced to shut down and place thousands of workers on the unemployment rolls just as the economy is beginning to roar back.”

The letter states that eight oil refineries have closed on the U.S. East Coast since 2009, and that seven refineries across the U.S. have shut down, idled, or repurposed their operations since the beginning of 2020. The letter, however, fails to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. biofuels industry. Due to falling demand for transportation fuel and other market factors, approximately half of U.S. ethanol capacity was idle during the early months of the pandemic, with production still down roughly 10 percent when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

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

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from Toomey’s website