Following Supreme Court Decision in HollyFrontier Case, Craig Introduces Bipartisan Bill Clarifying Oil Refinery Exemptions

July 2, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN) and Randy Feenstra (R-IA-04) introduced the Small Refinery Exemption Clarification Act of 2021. The bipartisan legislation would clarify that only oil refineries that have been continuously receiving small refinery exemptions (SREs) since 2011 would be eligible to petition for extensions of renewable fuel blending requirement exemptions. Craig and Feenstra introduced the bipartisan bill following last week’s Supreme Court decision that could negatively impact the biofuels industry by making it easier for oil refineries to avoid renewable fuel standard blending requirements. 

“This legislation will help ensure transparency and predictability for family farmers and biofuels producers in Minnesota and across the country as they make important decisions based on the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Representative Craig. “I am grateful to Representative Feenstra for working alongside me on this critical issue, and I look forward to continuing our bipartisan work to ensure that the oil industry does not receive unnecessary assistance at the expense of family farmers. It is vital that we continue to support the clean biofuels industry as we reduce the carbon intensity of our transportation sector and make important investments across rural America.” 

“The biofuels industry is an important driver of economic growth in Iowa, supporting hundreds of jobs and expanding market options for our corn and soybean growers,” said Representative Feenstra. “That is why we must erase ambiguities and ensure oil refineries are not able to take shortcuts when it comes to blending biofuels. I would like to thank Rep. Craig for joining me in this effort. As a cleaner and more affordable option for consumers, I will continue supporting efforts that will help bolster biofuels.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels by mandating that oil refiners blend billions of gallons of biofuels into their fuel each year or buy credits from those that do. Under the previous Administration, the EPA greatly expanded the number of small refinery waivers that were issued while undermining transparency and accountability in the SRE process. By issuing dozens of waivers between 2016 and 2020, the EPA saved the oil industry hundreds of millions of dollars while threatening rural economies and harming the biofuels industry at large.

The bipartisan bill is supported by Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Farmers Union.

Below are statements in support of the Members’ bipartisan legislation: 

“The Small Refinery Exemption Clarification Act seeks to correct a flaw in the small refinery exemption (SRE) program regarding who is eligible. The RFS always intended to blend more low-carbon biofuels into our domestic fuel supply every year. We firmly believe that refiners have had 16 years to adjust their operations to comply with the RFS, and that EPA’s SRE authority was meant to steer them toward compliance rather than provide a never-ending excuse to avoiding their blending obligations,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Legislation like this will help stabilize demand in our industry, so we can continue to produce low-carbon biofuels, provide clean energy jobs in rural areas, and achieve our nation’s climate reduction goals. We are grateful to Representatives Randy Feenstra and Angie Craig for continuing to push to restore integrity to a program run amuck.”

“Corn growers thank Representatives Angie Craig and Randy Feenstra for taking the lead on helping close the door on RFS waiver abuse,” said National Corn Growers Association President John Linder. “With 70 waiver petitions pending, corn growers join Members of Congress in urging EPA to use the tools they do have from the Tenth Circuit Court decision and EPA’s stated support for the Court’s opinion to resolve those waivers and move forward with putting the RFS back on track with strong volume requirements.”

“As we argued before the Supreme Court, we believe Congress has always intended the small refinery exemption to be temporary in nature. We also continue to believe the statute only allows EPA to extend exemptions for refineries that were continuously exempt, but only if they can prove disproportionate economic hardship will be caused solely by RFS compliance,” said Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association. “We strongly agreed with Justices Barrett, Kagan, and Sotomayor that ‘EPA cannot ‘extend’ an exemption that a refinery no longer has,’ but unfortunately their six colleagues didn’t see it that way. Thus, we applaud Representative Craig for introducing this bill that would erase any lingering doubts about the intended meaning of ‘extension’ and clarify once and for all that exemptions were meant to be temporary.”   

“Over the past several years, the lenient approach to granting exemptions for the Renewable Fuel Standards has undermined the intent of the program – which is to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and create new opportunities for America's family farmers and rural economies,” said Rob Larew, National Farmers Union President. “By clarifying the eligibility criteria for exemptions, this bill will strengthen the RFS and help meet all its worthy objectives. We welcome the introduction of the Small Refinery Exemptions Clarification Act and thank Representatives Craig and Feenstra for their commitment to agricultural communities and environmental sustainability."