In Washington, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told the Illinois Farm Progress Show that President Trump will announce a plan to mitigate the impact of small oil refinery waivers that have been issued in recent weeks. The Secretary did not offer a timeline, according to a Reuters report.
Secretary Perdue declined to offer details or a timeline, saying that “The president wants to come and deliver the message himself”.
As we reported earlier this month, “the 31 small refinery waivers issued on Friday [have] the biofuels and agriculture industries reeling after promises made by President Trump to look into why big oil companies were getting these exemptions intended for small biorefineries and how exactly decisions were being made on the waivers.”
As we reported in our Bioeconomy 2020 poll earlier this week, President Trump’s support stands at 31.7 percent, substantially trailing his support in the country as a whole.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a group of Senators including presidential hopefuls Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bennet and Kirsten Gillibrand wrote:
“We are extremely concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent actions to continue to improperly grant small refinery hardship waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA’s continued manipulation and misuse of the small refiner waiver authority is undermining the integrity of the RFS and disadvantaging farmers.
Ethanol prices have fallen to their lowest levels in over a decade. Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) prices are down more than 80 percent as compared to last year, providing massive relief to refiners choosing to buy credits to comply with the RFS rather than produce renewable fuels. In fact, one oil refiner re-allocated its savings from lower RIN prices and purchased three ethanol plants, calling into question why refineries really needed these savings if they were not being used to lower expenses or pay employees.
Every waiver granted negatively impacts the rural economy. At a time when farm family incomes are at their lowest levels since 2006, the improper issuance of small refinery waivers is hurting biofuel producers and farmers across the United States. In fact, Secretary of Agriculture Perdue described these waivers as “demand destruction.”
As we reported, action in the Midwest to stop the waivers is bi-partisan, with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and GOP Senators Grassley and Ernst joining calls to address the pain inflicted on rural America by the Administration’s energy and agriculture policies.