Young’s bipartisan bill aims to bolster U.S. energy production

Toward supporting American small scale refineries, U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to improve the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program, which Congress created under the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector, and reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil.

“Our bipartisan bill would improve the Renewable Fuel Standard Program to help strengthen domestic energy production, reduce consumer costs, and boost American energy independence,” Sen. Young said last week.

The RFS Program, which aims to foster competition in the marketplace, includes waivers available to small refineries that would face “disproportionate economic hardship,” allowing them to be exempt from the RFS.

However, according to the lawmakers, program inconsistencies have resulted in the number of granted exemptions varying significantly each year, creating uncertainty for smaller refineries that were intended to be assisted under the program.

The Supporting Energy in Rural America Act, S. 4070, which Sen. Young cosponsored on March 22 alongside bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would establish which refineries are eligible for a waiver by defining “small refinery” according to the definition used by the Small Business Administration: a refinery with average daily output that does not exceed 200,000 barrels or that does not employ more than 1,500 employees.

If enacted, S. 4070 also would close the loophole allowing for multinational oil companies to file for waivers intended for small refineries by clarifying that the cap established by the definition includes the capacity of the entire company, according to a bill summary provided by the senators.

“For years, multinational oil corporations have used loopholes to take advantage of clean air standards while Montana’s small refineries have gotten a raw deal — but my bipartisan bill will change that,” said Sen. Tester. “More oil refining in Montana will lower costs for consumers and businesses, strengthen Montana’s energy sector, and increase our national security by boosting American energy independence.”

The bill also would improve the waiver program’s reliability by tasking the U.S. Department of Energy with creating a methodology for the Environmental Protection Agency to follow when assessing applications for the waiver rather than leaving it to the interpretation of the administration, the summary says.