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Rounds Cosponsors Bill to Make RFS Small Refinery Waiver Process More Transparent

Bipartisan legislation would provide certainty for farmers and ethanol producers

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) cosponsored the bipartisan RFS Integrity Act of 2019. This legislation seeks to provide more certainty for producers by bringing transparency and predictability to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) small refinery exemption process. The bill would require small refineries to petition for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hardship exemptions by June 1st of each year. This change would make sure that EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations it sets each November.

“South Dakota is a leader in corn ethanol production, and it is an important part of our state’s overall economy,” said Rounds. “The EPA needs to take into account the impact of small refinery waivers on the corn ethanol industry. These waivers have the potential to reduce corn ethanol demand which would hurt South Dakota producers at a time of low net farm income. Our bipartisan bill would provide much-needed transparency to the EPA’s waiver process.”

During a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing last year, Rounds questioned then-Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler about the number of small refinery waivers issued by the agency, asking why the EPA takes care of small refineries but not small farmers. To view their exchange, click HERE. During Wheeler’s confirmation hearing this year, Rounds again pressed him on the issue of exemptions granted to small refineries.

The RFS Integrity Act of 2019 was originally introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill is supported by a number of organizations including the National Corn Growers Association, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Biodiesel Board and the American Coalition for Ethanol.