Reps back plan to stop abuse of the waiver system for refineries

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Midwest lawmakers are continuing to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency stop giving refineries exemptions from blending ethanol in their gasoline.

They say it’s an abuse of small refinery exemption waivers and it’s hurting corn farmers.

Federal data shows the Trump Administration is handing out waivers at four-times the rate of the Obama Administration.

Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos says Trump is inflaming pain for farmers as the administration lets a record number of oil refineries opt-out of blending ethanol.

“All of this has been on the back of the family farmer,” Bustos said. “These small refinery waivers the Trump Administration is passing out like candy on Halloween. It has literally cost our farmers billions of dollars of ethanol.”

After months of negotiations on the issues with the White House, Republican lawmakers are taking the issue into their own hands.

Illinois Republican Congressman Rodney Davis is introducing a plan to stop future abuse of the waiver system.

Those in the oil industry say the waivers help small refineries that can’t afford to meet the EPA’s standards to stay in business.

However, federal records show this past year big names like Chevron and ExxonMobil received waivers as well.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he’s working closely with Trump to fix the problem.

“I’ve probably spent more time on this issue than anyone else,” Perdue said. “It’s not my decision to make but the president will hear from the senators that are concerned about the petroleum industry. I think he understands there’s a balance there.”

Perdue says to expect an announcement within a week.

However, that’s not deterring lawmakers.

“That doesn’t stop me from introducing a legislative solution,” Davis said.

But the bill’s co-sponsor, Republican Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood, says the legislative process won’t be fast enough for farmers.

“I think this is a decision that could be made immediately by EPA and the Trump administration and I’m confident they will,” LaHood said.

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