WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) slammed the Trump Administration for abusing the use of federal waivers to help big oil while undercutting farmers and rural economies. The Administration is using ‘small refinery waivers’ to grant exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard for some of the world’s largest oil companies, driving down demand for biofuels by more than 1.4 billion gallons.

These waivers are hurting rural communities across the Midwest with more than 13 ethanol and eight biodiesel plants idled or shut down. These biofuel plants serve as important market for farmers to sell their corn, soybeans and other commodities. The Trump Administration has increased the use of these waivers by 370 percent in the first three years of the Administration compared to the first three years of the last Administration. Earlier this month, the Administration – reportedly at the direction of President Trump – issued 31 waivers on top of 54 more they’ve issued since the start of the Trump presidency.

“President Trump is once again betraying Ohio farmers to help his friends in Big Oil,” said Brown. “While farmers continue to get next to nothing from this White House, the oil companies seem to get whatever they want. Big Oil doesn’t need any more help in Washington. The Administration’s abuse of these waivers is a slap in the face to those who grow our food.”

This week, Brown joined Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Senate colleagues to send a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler calling on EPA to stop the abuse of these waivers and end the harm to rural economies and farmers across the country.

Brown is a long-time supporter of sensible biofuel production that promotes Ohio agriculture and reduces the need for foreign oil. In 2017, Brown applauded the groundbreaking of an expansion at POET Biorefining-Marion that will create jobs and double the size of the facility.

A copy of Brown’s letter can be found HERE and below.

Dear Administrator Wheeler,

We are extremely concerned that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to abuse the use of small refinery hardship waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). On Friday, August 8, 2019, the EPA issued another 31 such waivers, effectively reducing demand for renewable fuels by over 1.4 billion gallons. This is on top of the 54 refinery waivers already approved by this Administration over the last two years, which eliminated demand for more than 2.6 billion gallons of biofuels.

Comparing the last three years of the previous administration to the first three years of the current administration, the Trump Administration has increased the granting of waivers by an astounding 370 percent, with "small refinery" waivers going to some of the world's largest oil companies.

This pattern of demand destruction is wreaking havoc on our nation's rural economy. In recent months, more than 13 ethanol plants and 8 biodiesel plants have idled production or shut down across the country. Not only did these biofuel plants support thousands of rural jobs across the country, they served as important markets for farmers, processing millions of bushels of corn, soybeans, and other commodities. At a time when farmers are already struggling after years of low prices and a chaotic trade agenda, this Administration chose to destroy more markets for farmers and harm rural communities across the country.

To add insult to injury, recent reports indicate that President Trump personally made the decision to grant these 31 waivers, despite numerous promises to support renewable fuels. EPA continues to undercut the integrity of the RFS by misusing its waiver authority, which in turn has a direct adverse impact on farmers and jobs in rural communities. We write to urge you once again to end the abuse of these small refinery exemptions, immediately reallocate the remaining gallons, and make public information regarding any recipients of these exemptions.

Thank you for your attention to this critical issue.