The war of words between the Senate and the EPA is heating up. The issue is the granting of refining waivers by EPA to refineries allowing them to blend less ethanol and not comply with the RFS. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is a leading critic of the agency, “EPA is screwing around with the program, to the detriment of agriculture and the ethanol industry.”
But EPA’s Bill Wehrum flatly denied the allegations, “We, in conjunction with the Department of Energy, require a substantial amount of information to be provided by those who ask for the waivers, including very detailed information about the financial condition of these facilities and the companies that run them…whether there is hardship that warrants the issuance of an exemption. So, I’ll just say, based on how you asked the question, we just categorically deny the assertion that we’re granting waivers to facilities that are not deserving.”
Grassley urges the President to step in fix the issue, “They’re bullying the President of the United States…just like, if anybody thinks they can bully this president…he’s not easily bullied, I believe…but that’s what they’re trying to do…and they’re not going to give up.”
Meanwhile, U.S. corn farmers continue to suffer from a decline in ethanol production. A recent analysis by economists at the University of Missouri’s Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute shows that the U.S. ethanol industry could lose 4.6 billion gallons of domestic demand and nearly $20 billion in sales revenue over the next six years if the U.S. EPA continues its current practice of exempting dozens of small refiners from their blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.