Klobuchar: In first 100 days as President, pledges moratorium on oil refinery waivers, restoration of renewable fuels tax credit and more : Biofuels Digest


Klobuchar says “I will stop the oil refinery waivers”: In Iowa, US Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said that, if elected President in 2020, would in her first 100 days in office order a moratorium on oil refinery waivers issued under the Renewable Fuel Standard, restore the biomass-based diesel tax credit, work to expand availability of E15 ethanol in the United States.

The Senator issued a direct challenge for the President in the Midwestern heartland, whose support was critical to Trump’s election in 2016. A bipartisan group of Midwestern leaders have been strenuously calling on President Trump to stop the oil refinery waivers and restoration of the “tax extenders” which lapsed at the end of 2017.

The Trump Administration has been sharply criticized by rural interests in the past year over manufacturing tariffs imposed on China that have inspired retaliatory tariffs on US farm goods, tariffs on US farm goods, rollbacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard volumes which ensure that renewable fuels producers and growers have access to America’s refueling infrastructure, and a set of tax credits not renewed since 2017 which have imperiled investment in  the biomass-based diesel sector.

“My state is seeing the same problems (as Iowa), and across the country,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This president made a promise to Rural America, that he was going to have our back when it came to ag policy, and how great he was going to do, and every single day there’s another problem. Trade wars, commodity prices, and these oil waivers.

Klobuchar landed fourth in the Digest’s recent bioeconomy 2020 presidential poll, trailing President, former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The Digest’s poll is skewed towards the UA heartland population and to those interested in core subjects such as energy, food, health, manufacturing, agriculture, advanced technology R&D, climate, clean air, tax policy, and infrastructure change. More on this week’s poll, here.

The bipartisan push to stop the waivers

In July the Digest reported that, “contrary to assertions by the EPA, the Energy Department confirmed in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that the EPA has issued so-called “economic hardship” exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to small refineries, often owned by billion-dollar oil companies, even when the Energy Department found that the refineries faced little or no actual “hardship.”

Last July we reported that Senator Chuck Grassley criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for biofuel blending in 2019 and hinted the hardship waivers granted by the agency may be illegal.

Former GOP congressional candidate and Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard executive director Monte Shaw wrote last month:

“Until the EPA reins in the abuse of (small refinery exemptions) and reallocates what has already been lost, billions of gallons of biofuel demand will be destroyed each year as (small refinery exemptions) explode around our industry like fireworks above the Washington Monument on the Fourth of July.”

Iowa’s GOP Governor Kim Reynolds added,

“I am incredibly disappointed to see that the EPA has failed to reallocate the millions of lost gallons due to their brazen and unprecedented use of small refinery exemption waivers,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a separate news release. “A robust (Renewable Fuel Standard) is essential to a healthy ag economy in Iowa and across the country. I urge EPA Secretary Wheeler to reverse course and uphold President Trump’s commitment to rural America by strengthening the (Renewable Fuel Standard) and putting an end to the abusive practice of granting waivers to profitable oil refineries.

Democrats have joined Republicans in calling on President Trump to stop the oil refinery waivers.

Former Democratic Lieutenant Governor of Iowa Patty Judge added, “This has been a difficult year for Midwesterners, we have received blow after blow. In typical times we come together and find bipartisan solutions, but these are not typical times, our current president has ignored the risks in farming, ignored the need for certainty, claims he is a friend to farmers, but has allowed EPA to hand out unprecedented numbers of exemptions to companies as large as Exxon and Chevron under the guise of economic hardship .”

Klobuchar pitches to moderates and independents

Klobuchar struck a bipartisan tone in her remarks.

“When Democratic candidates win statewide here in the Midwest, they tend to be people who can appeal to independents and moderate Republicans. Who may not always agree with me, but will know that I’ve always got their back, and will always tell the truth.”

Klobuchar made a blistering attack on President Trump’s record on issues important to Midwesterners.

“People are starting to realize the President lies, and that’s not consistent with rural values. This [waiver] program was set up for small refineries who might be struggling, and usually administrations had given out a handful of these a year, but [the Trump Administration’s grants] are in the dozens and dozens, and given to companies like Exxon and Chevron. Now, he starts whining, blaming the press, Denmark, immigrants, the EPA Administrators and even past presidents. The people don’t want a president who is going to whine, but one who is going to lead.”

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