DES MOINES — Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne and others are calling for a federal investigation into the waiver process that allows oil refineries to bypass the regulations for mixing renewable fuels with their products.
The West Des Moines Democrat is sending a letter to the acting inspector general of the EPA, requesting the investigation. Axne says the EPA’s recent granting of 31 Renewable Fuel Standard waivers to small refineries puts the total at “85 handouts to the oil sector.”
“What that’s done is destroy over four billion gallons of biofuel demand–which means that’s a market for more than one-point-five billion bushels of American corn,” Axne says. Axne accuses the EPA of abusing the system by granting waivers to companies like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron without justification.
“What we’re finding out are what we believe to be no justifications for this, and actually a violation of what they should be doing within the EPA,” she says. “So, we are going to get to the bottom of this. It’s unacceptable, and I plan on making it stop.” Axne says the waivers are also having an adverse affect on the biofuel industry, itself. Officials with POET announced Tuesday that it would idle a 92-million-gallon ethanol plant in Cloverdale, Indiana as a result of the waivers.
“Across the heartland, we’ve had 200 ethanol plants that are under strain,” Axne says. “Many of them have already shut their doors. Recent estimates suggest that hundreds of millions of gallons of biofuel production remain offline. Plants are impacted not just here, but in Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and even in Florida, Virginia and places like, well, Nebraska–our neighbor, for goodness sake. Our farm income’s down by half since the end of 2018, and it continues to fall–and this plays right into that.”
Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack and Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer are also calling for an investigation. Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have both blasted the EPA’s recent decision.
Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Andrew Wheeler outlining the damaging effects of the 31 new small refinery waivers. Naig also extended an invitation to Secretary Wheeler to come to Iowa and see the devastating impact of these exemptions firsthand.