(Reuters) – Two Midwest senators said Friday they had introduced a bill to reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s biofuel waiver program, which the corn industry says helps oil companies at the expense of farmers here by threatening ethanol demand.
The bill, introduced by Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Republican Deb Fischer of Nebraska, would impose a June 1 deadline for refineries to apply for the waivers that exempt them from blending ethanol into gasoline, so the EPA has time to calculate the volumes waived and apply them to the next year’s blending mandates, the senators said in a statement.
It would require the agency to report to lawmakers on the methodology used to decide whether a waiver is granted, and would make other elements of the largely confidential waiver process more transparent.
“Farmers across Illinois and throughout the Midwest are hurting and ethanol plants are idling while this administration is abusing the small refinery exemption program to undermine the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Duckworth.
“I am proud to work with Senator Fischer to introduce this bipartisan legislation to bring much-needed transparency to the waiver process and prevent it from being misused to benefit billion-dollar oil companies at the expense of hardworking Americans,” she said.
But small facilities can apply for an exemption if they prove that compliance with the RFS would cause them financial hardship, and the EPA can grant them secretly in a process they say protects confidential business information.