The letter was signed by U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), James Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and John Cornyn (R-TX).
Read the full letter here and below.
Dear Administrator Wheeler:
We write to urge you to use your authority under the Clean Air Act to waive or significantly reduce the renewable fuel volume obligations (RVOs) on America’s refineries for the 2020 compliance year. Since March, the United States has experienced an unprecedented drop in the demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. At the same time, the cost of complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has nearly tripled since January 2, 2020. Congress has given you the authority to reduce RVOs if “implementation…would severely harm the economy… of a State, a region, or the United States.” If there ever was a time to use your authority, it is now.
In the last six weeks, a bipartisan group of six governors, representing many of our home states, petitioned you to use your authority to waive the 2020 RVOs. Since then, we have witnessed a precipitous decline in demand for transportation fuel. Weekly demand for gasoline has fallen, on a year-over-year basis, by double digits – decreasing between 19 percent and 48 percent – in each of the last seven weeks. Weekly demand for distillate has fallen, on a year-over-year basis, by double digits – decreasing between 10 percent and 25 percent – in six of the last nine weeks. Weekly demand for jet fuel has fallen, on a year-over-year basis, by double digits in ten of the last twelve weeks – and fell between 48 percent and 80 percent in each of the last six weeks.
Meanwhile, EPA has taken steps that have nearly tripled the cost of complying with the RFS since January 2nd. Earlier this year, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a ruling that threatens to end hardship relief for most small refineries. Yet, the next week, EPA boosted the 2020 RVOs by an additional 770 million gallons. EPA’s premise for increasing the 2020 RVOs was its prediction that it would exempt 770 million gallons in hardship relief to small refineries – something EPA will not be able to do if the three judge panel’s ruling is applied nationwide. Your decision to increase the 2020 RVOs was only more perplexing when you later decided not to seek a rehearing of the three judge panel’s ruling.
In 2005, when enacting the RFS, Congress provided the Administrator of the EPA the authority to prevent this program from contributing to severe economic harm in a state, a region, or the nation. Since then, your predecessors have not found cause to use this authority. Whether prior petitions merited approval or not, there should be no doubt about the threat that the 2020 RVOs pose to our states’ economies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A failure to grant, in part or in whole, the governors’ petitions would render this provision within the Clean Air Act utterly meaningless. It would be a gross example of a federal agency nullifying an act of Congress.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and we look forward to your prompt response.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has jurisdiction over the RFS.
On April 7, 2020, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards submitted a petition to EPA to waive the blending obligations for the 2020 compliance year under the RFS.
On April 15, 2020, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon submitted a joint petition to EPA.
On May 11, 2020, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf renewed his 2018 petition to EPA.