Fischer bill brings transparency to small refinery waiver process

To provide more transparency for the federal small refinery exemption process, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) on May 24 proposed bipartisan legislation that would ensure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) it sets each November.

“The EPA’s very opaque small refinery exemption process is unfair to hardworking farmers and ethanol producers across rural America,” Sen. Fischer said. “By ensuring the EPA accounts for exempted gallons in the annual RVO process, my bipartisan bill will uphold the integrity of the RFS and bring much needed transparency to this exemption process.”

Sen. Fischer sponsored the RFS Integrity Act of 2021, S. 1792, with five cosponsors, including U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), which would require small refineries to petition for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hardship exemptions by June 1 each year. The new deadline would fix the currently complex “rolling deadline” and would give the EPA sufficient time to ensure exemptions are accounted for in the annual RVO process, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Fischer’s staff.

The bill also would require the EPA to publish the name of the refinery and how many gallons are exempted on the agency’s dashboard at the same time the refiner is notified that they received an exemption, the summary says. 

“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 hard-working Americans again,” said Sen. Duckworth.

The American Soybean Association, the National Biodiesel Board, Green Plains Inc., Growth Energy, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, and the Renewable Fuels Association support S. 1792, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.