After 4 Months, EPA Fails to Fully Respond to Loebsack Questions on RFS “Hardship” Waiver
After four months, Congressman Dave Loebsack finally received a response from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the specific questions he had asked regarding the agency’s use of the small refinery exemption program. In April, then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which Loebsack serves on, about the small refinery exemption, also known as a ‘hardship’ waiver. During his testimony, Pruitt was unable to answer many of the questions posed to him at the time. After the hearing, Loebsack submitted detailed questions for the EPA to provide answers.
In a recently received letter, four months after the hearing, the EPA again failed to fully answer many of the questions that Loebsack had submitted. The full request Loebsack submitted to the EPA in April for additional information is below.
“It is disappointing that the EPA took four months to respond to inquiries regarding the demand destruction done by small refinery exemptions. In fact, many of the questions I submitted still remain unanswered,” said Loebsack. “These giveaways, so called hardship waivers, need to stop before more irreparable harm is done to our farmers and rural communities across the country.”
Congressman Dave Loebsack Questions for the Record for Administrator Pruitt
Administrator Pruitt, as I indicated to you at the hearing, I have a lot of concerns about the way in which the small refinery exemptions within the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program have been handled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There needs to be much more transparency and public accountability in the with respect to the small refinery waiver exemptions. Please provide responses to the following questions regarding small refinery exemptions within the RFS.
1. What is the total number of refinery waiver applications that EPA received in each year from 2013 through 2017?
2. For each year from 2013 through 2017, how many waivers did the EPA grant?
3. What companies have received waivers for each year from 2013 through 2017?
4. What is the total volume of biofuel obligation represented by the waivers granted for each year 2013 through 2017?
5. What is the EPA process for confirming that each applicant falls beneath the 75,000-barrell throughput capacity?
6. Please confirm how the gallons waived under the small refinery exemption process are handled. Are the gallons reassigned to remaining obligated parties for blending? Are they reassigned within the same compliance year? If they are not reassigned to the remaining obligated parties, what is the disposition of those gallons relative to the overall renewable volume obligation set in the annual rule?
7. Did you inform President Trump or White House staff of the unusually large number of small refinery exemptions EPA was granting and of the potential effects on the renewable fuel market of exempting additional gallons and facilities and the fact that these actions would not be well received by the agricultural community?
8. EPA claimed recently that the Agency did not change the criteria for granting exemptions from those used in past years. Yet, numerous press reports indicate the Agency has granted almost double the amount of waivers than have been granted in past years. What is your explanation for the Agency’s granting of an unusually high number of waivers under this program as compared to past years? If the Agency is applying different criteria, please provide a an explanation of the changes and the justification for initiating the new criteria.
9. Did EPA consult with the Department of Energy on each of the applications for a small refinery exemption for 2016 and 2017? For how many of the applications reviewed by DOE for these two compliance years did EPA disagree with DOE’s recommendation to grant or deny the exemption?
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